A Biden Problem: Foot in Mouth

Shortly after Obama's office released this statement, Biden followed suit with a short written statement of his own, reading simply, "I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone. That was not my intent and I expressed that to Senator Obama."

But, in an earlier conference call with reporters about his presidential campaign, Biden acknowledged that he "was quoted accurately" in the New York Observer, but insists his comments are being misunderstood.

"Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that either the Democratic or Republican party has produced at least since I've been around," Biden said. "He's fresh, he's new, he's insightful."

Biden said he regretted that "some have taken totally out of context my use of the word 'clean.'"

"My mother has an expression 'clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack,'" Biden said. "Look, the idea is, this guy is something brand new no one has seen before."

Biden reminded those on the call that he has a long record of support within the African-American community in Delaware and claimed he had spoken with Obama personally about the remark.

According to Biden, Obama told his colleague, "'Joe, you don't have to explain anything to me.'" Biden said he felt Obama "knew what I meant by it."

When asked why, if he feels so strongly about Obama, he is running against him for the Democratic nomination, Biden responded: "I think he's great, I think they're all great. I think I'm better. I think I'm more prepared."

Democratic observers shook their heads at the latest example of how Biden's garrulousness often gets him into trouble.

In the book "What It Takes," which chronicles the campaigns of six presidential hopefuls running in 1988, including Biden, Richard Ben Cramer wrote: "Biden is 'speech-driven' his guys would explain. But that was just guru-talk for the fact that Joe often didn't know what he thought until he had to say it. Then, too, there was the sorry corollary: sometimes Biden spoke before he thought."

Biden's campaign insists he is being misunderstood.

"Clean is a synonym for fresh and new," Biden campaign spokesman Larry Rasky told ABC News. "And if you look at the context of the quote it's obvious that's what he meant. And certainly anybody who knows Sen. Biden wouldn't question that."

The Biden campaign also pointed out that on "Good Morning America" today, the senator disputed the notion that Obama is too inexperienced to be president.

"Look, this guy's incredible," Biden said on the program. "He is really bright. He's fresh. He's new. He has great ideas. And the question will be whether or not on the campaign trail he fleshes out his ideas. I think experience does matter, but you'd expect me to say that. But, you know, this also relates to judgment, as he says. And so the folks are going to look at all of us. But he is a real star. This is a really incredible person."

And late in the day Wednesday, Biden issued a statement saying: "I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone. That was not my intent and I expressed that to Sen. Obama.?

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