Biden on Mass. Race: Minority Turnout Might Be Low, Obama Not on Ticket

Dave Roback/Springfield-Republican/AP

At a D.C. fundraiser for Rep. Ed Markey's Senate campaign, Vice President Joe Biden warned Democrats that minority turnout in the Massachusetts Senate special election might be low because President Obama is not at the top of the ticket.

"There's a big difference in this race," Biden said Tuesday night. "Barack Obama's not at the head of the ticket. And that means those legions of African-Americans and Latinos are not automatically going to come out. No one has energized them like Barack Obama. But he's not on the ticket. So don't take this one for granted."

Biden's comments came one day before Obama spoke at a Markey campaign event in Massachusetts. Markey is running against Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez to fill the Massachusetts 5th District seat vacated by John Kerry, who now serves as secretary of state.

As he asked guests to donate more to Markey's campaign, Biden argued that the country cannot afford to elect Republicans who fall in line with the beliefs of freshmen Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

"The last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky - or the old senator from Kentucky," Biden said. "Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole."

Biden expressed his frustration with the debate over gun control, saying he courted nine Republican senators to support the background check bill but many were afraid to vote against Cruz or Paul.

"Not one of them offered an explanation on the merits of why they couldn't vote for the background check. But … they said, 'I don't want to take on Ted Cruz. I don't want to take on Rand Paul. They'll be in my district,'" Biden said.

"I actually said, 'Are you kidding? These are two freshman,'" he added. The vice president praised Markey, calling him "part of a movement" and joked that his wife, Susan Blumenthal, was one of the secrets of his success.

"Folks, Ed Markey has a distinct advantage over the rest of us: He has a psychiatrist for a wife," Biden joked. "It's not often noted, but it is very important. I can think of at least a half a dozen people who I wished had a psychiatrist for a wife."

The fundraiser, which also included former Vice President Al Gore and Vicki Kennedy, wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, raised about $250,000, according to Markey campaign officials.

The vice president has remained quiet about his future presidential intentions, but Biden joked Tuesday that he does have one job in mind for 2016.

"I want to make a direct admission here," Biden said. "I've been talking with Al for a while. I'm, quite frankly, just lobbying for a job when I leave with Al."