ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports: Democratic vice-presidential nominee and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden emphasized Pennsylvania’s importance in the upcoming election as he returned to his roots Thursday for a visit with delegates from the state of his birth.
"You are the ones that are going to determine whether or not this world gets turned around," the Scranton-born senator said to the crowd at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. "It’s not hyperbole. We cannot win without Pennsylvania — it’s that simple.
"As they say, ya brung me up," Biden told the delegates. And in the coming months, as Obama’s running mate, he’s coming back home.
"The Obama-Biden campaign, we are devoting, we are going to devote an inordinate amount of resources, hundreds of permanent staff, significant office openings. We’re going to have, you’re going to have all the resources this campaign has available to us. That’s the good news. And the bad news is you’re going to have a whole hell of a lot of me because I’m coming home."
As he will likely do when he campaigns in the state, Biden repeatedly appealed to the working-class ethic of Pennsylvanians.
"Nobody’s better than you. You’re as good as anybody else," he said after he was introduced by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and fellow Scranton boy Sen. Bob Casey.
"If there’s anything I learned from my roots, it’s trust the people," Biden said. "They’re a hell of a lot smarter than you think they are. They know what’s good for them, they know what’s good for the country. And we don’t seem to trust the folks, but you know, if you think about it, that’s what the Obama campaign’s all about."
It is precisely these folks, he said, whom he trusts to make sure that the country does not "careen off the edge."
"We’ve never been in a deeper hole, internationally, and I’ve never seen, in five decades, the American people, the middle class, so uncertain about their future and folks," Biden said. "We either fix it or we don’t, we change that direction or -– we’re not gonna fix it all –- but we change that direction or we’re gonna careen off the edge, and it’s gonna be for the better part of a generation."
However, in response to Biden’s remarks, the Republican campaign of Sen. John McCain criticized the Obama-Biden ticket for planning to raise taxes on Pennsylvanians.
"Joe Biden’s effort to create a record out of thin air for Barack Obama will not be enough to make up for Barack Obama’s lack of experience, lack of judgment, and plans to raise taxes on the hard working families of Pennsylvania," said McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt.
While emphasizing how crucial this election is, Biden also mixed in some lighter moments, such as when he joked about his age, something he has done at various times in the past week.
"Barack Obama could have made that speech, were he alive in 1972," Biden said about a speech he gave when he ran for the Senate in 1972. "No, he was alive. He was alive. By the way, if I hear one more time he was 11 years old when I went to the Senate, I’m going to smack somebody."
Biden loves to joke that only four senators have more seniority than him, but 44 are older.
Along with his sense of humor, one common Biden trait is his penchant for hyperbole, which was also on display Thursday when he said that "hundreds of thousands" of people attended his Senate campaign launch event in 1972.
"There was somewhere between six and ten busloads of people from Scranton who just spontaneously got on a bus and came down to Wilmington, Del., to the train station, uh, and I mean, and … there were, there were hundreds of thousands of people.
"Scranton never leaves you and Pennsylvania never leaves you," said the senator. "It’s been something that’s been — I probably campaigned in Pennsylvania I can’t tell ya how many times, literally hundreds of times, hundreds of times, because part of my heart has always been there."
Biden’s wife, Jill, raised in Willow Grove, is a fellow Keystone Stater, but she kept her remarks about the state more brief than her husband’s. "I do love Pennsylvania," was all the camera-shy professor said.