Obama campaign officials may publicly herald the candor of Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., they may say he's a net positive, but clearly, the aspiring VP has either been told to zip it or he's self-zipped.
Perhaps Sen. Barack Obama's disdainful reference to his running mate's "rhetorical flourishes" conveyed the message.
Biden has avoided talking to his traveling press corps for a long time, and he has been giving the same short 15-minute stump speech every day for the last week.
Today's, in Missouri, was his longest, clocking in at 28 minutes and including some new parts on news of the day, as Sen. Obama regularly does. (More on the "ripped-from-the-headlines" schtick of both Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on "World News" this evening.)
Ever since the Ohio arrest remarks and Seattle fundraiser comments that the world would soon test a young President Obama and his reaction wouldn't obviously be the correct one (in some way responsible, perhaps, for Obama's loss in the polls in who Americans trust to handle an unexpected crisis), Biden seems much more toned down, much more under wraps.
He stares straight at the teleprompter, rarely if ever deviating from script.
Just yesterday, Republicans and reporters alike noted that Biden seems to have been “muzzled” by Obama chieftains due to fears the verbose senator might drift off-message, as he has done a number of times -- say, HERE and HERE in recent weeks.
Today in Arnold, Mo., speaking at the Fox High School gym before a crowd of more than 1,000 Show-Me State supporters, Biden swayed off-script once again.
“Now look, folks...,” began Biden, about to tie McCain to President Bush.
But then, looking to his right, Biden suddenly spotted the Warriors’ band standing toward the side of the stage.
“Hey, I didn’t even see the band up there,” said the distracted Delaware lawmaker. “Hey, folks, how you guys doing? Thanks for being here. That’s really nice of you. Thank you.”
Then Biden paused, perhaps reining himself in before drifting too far off-script.
“Um, that’s what you call getting off-message,” quipped the loquacious Blue Hen. “But I tell ya, you guys look good.”
Then he went back to what was in the script.
-- Jake Tapper and Matthew Jaffe