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Biden: McCain is reprising attacks of 2000

Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden arrived at a campaign stop in Nashua yesterday. Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden arrived at a campaign stop in Nashua yesterday. (Jim Cole/Associated Press)
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Associated Press And Globe Staff / September 11, 2008
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Senator Joe Biden said yesterday that Republican John McCain is aiming the same kind of attacks at Democratic nominee Barack Obama that Biden had defended McCain against during the 2000 presidential race.

"It's my greatest disappointment," Biden told about 300 supporters at a fund-raiser in Boston.

Biden recalled how then-Texas governor George W. Bush and his supporters in 2000 questioned McCain's commitment to his fellow Vietnam veterans and even suggested the Arizona senator was the father of an illegitimate child.

Biden said he called McCain during the campaign and said, "I'll go anywhere in the country and I'll stand before press conferences and I'll testify to your character. You just tell me."

"What really disappoints me is the very tactics used against him, they're trying to use against Barack Obama now," Biden said. "It's literally saddening. I didn't expect it, I didn't expect it. But I guess I should learn to expect everything."

Biden, Obama's vice presidential nominee, did not get into specifics, but a spokesman said he was referring to a new McCain ad suggesting the Illinois senator supported sex education for kindergartners, as well as an advocacy group's recent ad that linked Obama to 1960s radical William Ayers.

Biden also said he did not automatically agree to be Obama's running mate, but only after Obama assured him that he agreed that the stakes were large.

"I insisted that I spend three hours with him," Biden said of Obama. "I wanted to hear from his own lips that he understood and believed that this was such an incredible moment."

But at a town hall forum yesterday in Nashua, Biden suggested that Hillary Clinton might have been a better selection for Obama.

"Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America," Biden said. "Let's get that straight. She's a truly close personal friend; she is qualified to be president of the United States of America. She's easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America and quite frankly it might have been a better pick than me, but she is first-rate."

With GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is grabbing far more of the attention, Biden tried to reassure donors at another fund-raiser, in Chicago on Tuesday night. He said he'll do fine in the only scheduled debate with Palin, Oct. 2 in St. Louis, though he expects the Alaska governor to come after him.

"Folks, look, I know what she's going to try to do," Biden said. "She's going to try to make it as personal as she can. She's going to take a lot of straight lefts and jabs at me. She's going to try to get me to respond. She's going to try to get me to respond in a personal way. That's not my style. I'm not going to do it."

Biden has tapped Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to play the role of Palin in practice debates. Granholm agreed to spend four days helping him prepare, spokeswoman Liz Boyd said yesterday.

Biden said he'll be concentrating on national issues when he debates Palin. "I don't care whether or not she built a bridge to nowhere. I don't care if she sold a plane," he said.

"What I care about is what in God's name is she going to do - along with John McCain - about the thousands of people who don't have healthcare," economic problems, and foreign policy challenges, Biden said.

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