ABC News' Matt Jaffe reports: Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., can barely mention Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., without calling the Republican presidential candidate "a good friend," but while ripping GOP campaign tactics today, Biden used the past tense when referring to the two lawmakers' friendship.
"He used to be a close friend," the Democratic vice presidential nominee said of McCain at a mid-day San Francisco area fundraiser. "What's being done, is a constant attempt to win by actually making, appealing to the cynicism of American people and the sense that government cannot work."
Even while blasting McCain on the campaign trail, Biden still calls his GOP opponent "a good friend" so frequently that two weeks ago NBC's "Saturday Night Live" parodied the Delaware lawmaker's habit.
"Look, I love John McCain," SNL's Jason Sudeikis said in his impersonation of Biden's veep debate performance. "He is one of my dearest friends, but at the same time, he is also dangerously unbalanced. I mean, let's be frank, John McCain -- and again this is a man I would take a bullet for -- he's bad at his job and mentally unstable."
Despite what he denounced as "scurrilous" Republican tactics, Biden today expressed confidence that voters are "smart" and "tough" enough to elect the Democratic ticket.
"We dumb them down a little too much," Biden said. "I think we don't think they're as smart and as tough as they are. They are smart and they are tough."
"It's totally within our wheelhouse. We can do this," Biden said confidently of the Democratic ticket's chances, before adding a note of caution. "But anybody who thinks that we're going to be elected, and all of a sudden, you know, the birds are going to start chirping and everything is going to come out is wrong."
At the Atherton home of former state comptroller Steve Westly, who made an unsuccessful bid for California governor two years ago, Biden joked with the audience about being the fourth most senior senator, but still being younger than 39 of his fellow lawmakers.
"I am getting so tired of this, I am the senior guy on the ticket. I can't stand it man," said the 65-year-old Biden, who then downplayed the veep slot to a member of the audience. "If I had known it was gonna get this way, John, I would have never left Senate chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee. You know, the vice presidency ain't much to begin with, you know what I mean?"
In response, a supporter in the crowd called out to the six-term senator, "At least you know what a vice president does!"
"Right now our vice president does too damn much," Biden replied with a laugh.