DAVENPORT, Iowa – A Joe Biden slip-up can be fodder for reporters covering the campaign, late night comedians, and Republicans hoping to capitalize off of his mistakes, but Vice President Biden, a politician who thrives in unscripted moments, has the ability to keep things light during his campaign stumbles, acknowledging that he does make mistakes.
Surrounded by volunteers in the middle of a campaign field office in Davenport, Iowa, Wednesday night, Biden poked a little fun at himself for a recent mix-up he made when he confused what state he was in during a campaign stop in Marion, Ohio, last week.
“I’ve been living in Ohio like I used to live in Iowa. As a matter of fact, I got in trouble – the press which never points out any mistake I make. I was in Ohio talking about it, and saying it’s good to be here in Ohio and then I said and in Iowa,” Biden admitted to the laughing volunteers. “But you guys brainwash us so much. It’s Ohio, and then it’s Iowa every day.”
This morning, Biden taped the Top Ten list for Thursday night’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” an appearance that could include a little humorous jabs at himself over some recent flubs. Speaking at the Municipal Auditorium in Sarasota, Fla., Wednesday, Biden held his tongue when trying to describe how Mitt Romney’s misleading Jeep ad makes him feel.
“I’m being a good Biden today,” the vice president said.
But even “good Biden” had some minor fumbles that day. When he stopped by 400 Station, a restaurant in Sarasota, Biden approached one patron and asked if he was Indian. “American!” the man responded.
As he stood in the blaring sun with his signature aviators on in Ocala, Fla., the vice president referred to a CBS “60 Minutes” interview Romney did but accidentally said it was an interview conducted on ABC News’ “20/20.” After the same event, Republicans quickly sent around stories about Biden claiming an Ohio newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, was from “this state” while he was speaking in Florida.
Reporters traveling between Biden’s stops replayed different versions of the video to see if the vice president had mixed up the state he was speaking in again, a moment that bore some similarity to the time Rick Perry’s embeds scoured their tapes to see if the Texas governor, who couldn’t escape the gaffe-prone narrative surrounding him in the final weeks of his campaign, had tried to call on a mannequin during a campaign stop in South Carolina. (ABC News’ verdict: These were not gaffes. Biden said “the” referencing Ohio, not “this,” meaning Florida, as some reporters and Republicans suggested, and Perry never tried to ask an inanimate object a question.)
Campaigning in Lynchburg, Va., last weekend, Biden mistakenly called former Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine, now the Democratic Senate candidate in Virginia who Biden has raised money for, by the name “Tom” – twice. But Kaine showed that there was no offense taken when he sent a Twitter message making light of the vice president’s mix-up.
“Thanks to the VPOTUS for the shout out today. I love Jay Biden!” Kaine tweeted Saturday.
But while some embrace the vice president’s blunders as “just Joe being Joe,” Republicans find Biden’s flubs to be opportunities to distract from the campaign’s intended message. Staffers at Romney headquarters in Boston watch the vice president’s events and quickly tweet out any slight mistake he makes, which eventually finds its way to the Drudge Report. On Wednesday, Biden’s harmless comment about giving a Sarasota crowd “the whole load” was plastered across the Drudge Report for hours.
“The highlight of my day is watching Joe Biden’s predictably off-message campaign events and waiting for his next hilarious gaffe,” said Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign.
Though some of his off-script moments cause headaches for the campaign at times, the vice president shines when he’s just being himself at some of his impromptu stops – from tightly hugging a woman who lost her only child outside a restaurant in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, to speaking to a woman who lost her home in a fire and was staying at the same Springfield, Ohio, hotel as the vice president.
Such these candid moments, some of which, but not all, turn into blunders, could continue after the election. Biden signaled Wednesday that his political ambitions may extend beyond the next four years. Talking on the phone with a Republican voter while at a Sarasota restaurant, Biden joked, “After it’s all over, when your insurance rates go down, then you’ll vote for me in 2016. I’ll talk to you later.”