ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports: “The decision I respectfully suggest you have to make is who is better equipped, who is better prepared to deal with the issues that are going to determine the shape of your life — is it John McCain and Sarah Palin?” Joe Biden asked Wednesday night at the College of Wooster in Ohio.
“No!” came the reply from the crowd of 4,500, so loud that Biden stopped to chuckle.
“Or is it Barack Obama and Joe Biden?” he said as the audience roared.
And so began an abbreviated, adapted stump speech from the Democratic vice presidential nominee, urging the collegiate crowd to imagine how different the country might look, depending on the next administration.
“What are the chances — is it more or less likely with a President McCain that we’re going to have a new cold war with Russia or maybe a hot war with Iran?" Biden asked.
But, on the other hand, he said, “Imagine a country that, once again, is the most respected country in all the world, imagine a country where we lead, where we lead by the power of our example and not by the example of our power.”
Biden recalled a story that former Sen. J. William Fulbright told him about John F. Kennedy sending former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Paris to explain the danger of the Cuban missile crisis to French President Charles de Gaulle. As Acheson was about to produce reconaissance photos to prove his point, de Gaulle said there was no need — the word of the American president was good enough.
“I am deadly earnest when I ask this rhetorical question,” said Biden. “Is there a single, a single world leader who, if Condi Rice, who’s a good woman, if she sat across from that leader, explaining the matter of war and peace, that would raise his or her hand and say, ‘there’s no need, I know the president of the United States and I trust him?’
"The single most significant responsibility the next president of the United States has is to restore our standing in the world, because the rest of the world understands — as much as they may resent it — we are the only genuine catalyst for change. It’s not American chauvinism — there’s no other nation in the world that, on its own, can be the vehicle, can be the vehicle for the kind of change the world is yearning for. Ladies and gentlemen, the opportunity is immense, immense,” he said, his voice fading to almost a whisper.
“You know, I truly believe Barack Obama has the opportunity, the opportunity to be the bridge between what we can imagine and what we can achieve.
“The Obama-Biden administration would speak to our hopes, rather than what we’ve seen the last eight and ten years of speaking to our fears, because of a basic fundamental principle that’s gonna sound naïve coming from a guy who’s been there for seven presidents. I’m not naïve, I’m not new, and I hope I’m not stupid,” he continued. “Ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you the fundamental difference between us, the two, the four folks in this race: we genuinely, genuinely have faith in the American people — we have faith that they will be able to rise up and deal with anything they’re facing.
“And folks, this isn’t blind faith, this isn’t a faith based in, you know, a sense of American exceptionalism. It’s a faith, a faith based on the journey and the history of our country, it’s a faith based upon the generations that have gone before us. In every time of crisis, your generation, in every time of crisis, before us, when have we made great progress? All the great times of progress we have made in this country has been made in the face of a great problem — that’s the time, that’s the time America responds.”
The McCain campaign, however, imagined the future under an Obama-Biden administration a little bit differently.
“It would be hard to imagine putting a rookie in the White House with no record of reform when Americans need change," said McCain spokesman Ben Porritt.