A Biden Problem: Foot in Mouth

History of Gaffes

This is not the first accusation of racial insensitivity Biden has faced. In June 2006, C-SPAN caught him speaking to an Indian-American man, saying: "In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." (You can see the Youtube video of that here.)

Last November at a Rotary Club meeting in Columbia, S.C., Biden joked about the state's Confederate history, saying that his home state of Delaware was "a slave state that fought beside the North." He added, "that's only because we couldn't figure out how to get to the South, there were a couple of other states in the way."

But Biden has been a consistent liberal voice on civil rights issues, and Jackson called him "a decent man and a smart man" today. This month he joined an NAACP rally against the presence of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina statehouse, and said, "if I were a state legislator, I'd vote for it to move off the grounds, out of the state."

Getting less attention were Biden's comments to the Observer in which he described previous Democratic presidential nominees Gore and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as "blow-dried candidates" who "couldn't connect" and went after other rivals for the 2008 nomination.

"Everyone in the world knows her," he told the Observer about Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. "Her husband has used every single legitimate tool in his behalf to lock people in, shut people down. Legitimate. And she can't break out of 30 percent for a choice for Democrats? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in a place where 100 percent of the Democrats know you? They've looked at you for the last three years. And four out of 10 is the max you can get?"

And of the proposal by Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., to remove 40,000 UL.S. troops from Iraq, Biden said, "I don't think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about."

Asked if his talkative nature might hinder his presidential hopes, Rasky earlier told ABC News that "it's a double-edged sword."

"It's chatter for the grist in Washington, D.C., but when you walk into a living room in Cedar Rapids [Iowa], or spend time as he recently did with college students in Manchester [N.H.] and give them a 20-minute answer on Iraq or North Korea, they know the answers to these problems are not simple and they want to be respected. We have seen this repeatedly."

"Yes, he does sometimes talk more than is politically correct," Rasky added. "But he always has something meaningful to say."

Biden ran for president 20 years ago and saw his campaign consumed by scandal after senior aides to campaign rival Mike Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts, made sure reporters saw that Biden had plagiarized a campaign speech from Neil Kinnock, then the leader of the British Labor Party. Biden had mentioned Kinnock in previous deliveries of that speech, though not in the one distributed to the press.

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