Oh That Joe! (No. 8 in a Series) -- On Fred 'Red October' Thompson, His Gall Bladder, and Brigades Vs. Battalions

Vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., might be in the Sunshine state, 1,700 miles southeast of the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, but the loquacious son of Scranton is definitely keeping tabs on what the opposition party is up to.

He seemed quite keyed up, for instance, over the remarks at the GOP convention last night by thespian and former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

"I heard 'Red October' hunting for votes," Biden said at the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers, Florida, "and Fred got up there and said, “Well, the Democrats are going to raise your taxes say because they say they’re not going to raise taxes but they’re going to raise taxes on business and that’s going to affect your food.'

"Let me tell you something," Biden said. "I don’t know why we need to give another tax break to Exxon Mobil.…These guys made $600 billion. Six hundred billion in profit has been made by the oil companies since 2000, and John McCain wants to give them another $5 billion tax break."

"So Fred," Biden said, addressing a man not in the room, "Fred, look at me. We’re gonna make sure you don’t get another tax break, because I’m going to give the tax break to the people right here in this room.”

Defending his running mate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, from the charge that he's inexperienced, Biden reached back to his first Senate campaign, when the-then New Castle County Council member defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Caleb Boggs.

“The line I used to use is, 30 years of bad experience ain’t worthwhile experience," Biden recalled. "You’re not going to take your car back to a mechanic who for 30 years in a row has screwed it up.”

But heralding his own experience, Biden also said he "know(s) as much as anyone in government about" national security and foreign policy.

And for the third time since his acceptance speech a week ago, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confused battalions and brigades.

“Over a year and a half ago,” Biden said of Obama. “He said we need two more combat battalions in Afghanistan.”

Actually, Obama called for two more combat brigades. 

A brigade is bigger than a battalion -- a brigade, in fact, is composed of a varying number of battalions.

The chairman said he expects to receive an agreement soon signed by the Iraqi and U.S. governments. “It’s going to say it’s time to turn over responsibility to the Iraqis and set an absolute date to bring our troops home,” Biden said. “So if Barack Obama is the agent of surrender, George Bush is the one signing the surrender papers!”

Biden noted that he "left part of me here in Ft. Myers. You have one of the best hospitals in America, Lee County memorial," he remembered. "They have my gall bladder."

"I got down here one time with my dad and wife at three o’clock in the morning and woke up with this awful, awful pain and thank God, thank God you have -- it’s rated one of the top 100 hospitals in America, so you should be very proud. And I can testify to the fact that you’ve got the best doctors and the best nurses of any place I’ve ever been and I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with doctors and nurses."

But it wouldn’t be a complete day for Biden if he didn’t make a slip-up about who’s actually at the top of his party’s ticket.

“We’re stepping up to the ball here, the Biden -- excuse me, the Obama-Biden administration," Biden said. "No, that wasn’t a Freudian slip, I was just talking about myself,” he said as the crowd laughed. “Believe me, believe me you got it right, Obama-Biden, I got that part,” Biden continued, laughing.

“Oh Lordy day, I tell ya,” he said, chuckling as his voice trailed off.

-- Jake Tapper and Matt Jaffe

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