In his third visit to Boston this year, Vice President Joe Biden courted financial backers and urged them to consider the alternatives in the coming election.
Biden said the worst thing that happened to the Democratic Party is what he called the “demise of the Republican Party,’’ referring to the rise of Tea Party-backed conservatives. “This ain’t your father’s Republican Party,’’ he said. “It isn’t even close.’’
Biden spoke to about 75 supporters during a cocktail reception at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. He campaigned in New York earlier in the day, and planned to have dinner with around 15 supporters at the Grill 23 restaurant in Boston. He has been traveling around the country recently, fundraising and advocating for President Obama’s jobs plan.
Well-heeled Democrats paid between $500 and the legal limit of $30,800 to attend, with the money benefiting the Obama Victory Fund – a joint account of the Democratic National Committee and President Obama’s organizing group, Organizing for America. Attendees included former Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman – who was appointed to fill Biden’s seat when Biden became vice president – and Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano. As he asked the audience for money, Biden acknowledged that Obama’s campaign would likely be outspent, noting the proliferation of Republican-backed political action committees already running advertising in battleground states.
With the ailing economy the central issue for most Americans in the 2012 race, Biden praised the job Obama has done handling the economy, and advocated for Obama’s American Jobs Act, a $447 billion plan to stimulate the economy that includes government spending and tax cuts.
One woman yelled “yes!’’ when Biden said, “We inherited this godawful recession.’’ But Biden said Obama takes responsibility for fixing the economy and has made unpopular decisions, including bailing out the financial system, fixing the Troubled Asset Relief Program – the so-called bank bailout, bailing out the auto industry and passing a $787 billion stimulus bill.
Obama’s newest jobs plan, he said, would create 1.9 million jobs in a year and increase the GDP by 2 percentage points. Biden said programs to hire teachers and police officers and repair schools can be paid for by eliminating tax breaks for oil companies, adding fees on private jet owners and raising taxes on hedge fund owners.
Biden criticized Republicans for being unwilling to compromise. He said Republican negotiators in Congress backed away from a deal on the debt ceiling that would have saved $4 trillion over a decade because their caucus refused to compromise.
On the jobs bill, Biden said the administration has no choice but to go over the head of Republican legislators and make their case to the American people. “Some of these guys aren’t going to change, these Tea Party guys, but the ones that got elected in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota can change if you go to their people,’’ Biden said.
In his 42-minute address, Biden received the loudest applause when he angrily castigated the members of the audience who booed at a recent Republican presidential debate when a gay soldier from Iraq asked a question on YouTube about the repeal of the ban on openly gay soldiers serving. “Nobody in Iraq, nobody carrying a weapon, would ask whether that guy was gay or straight, they want to know can he shoot straight,’’ Biden said. “This guy risked his life, these guys boo?’’
Biden visited Boston last March to meet with potential financial backers at a cocktail party and at a private meeting. He returned in May for an event at the John F. Kennedy Library to launch an initiative to improve funding for brain science research.
This time, Biden acknowledged his Boston connections. He was introduced by his 2008 presidential campaign communications director, Larry Rasky of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications in Boston. Biden started his speech by referring to the chance that the Red Sox’s recent losses will exclude them from the playoffs. Biden said his lead Secret Service man is from Boston. Before his plane landed, Biden said, “I said everyone bow their head. We’re going to say a prayer that Boston wins the wild card spot…I’m worried if in fact they don’t, he’s going to be so damn miserable he will not jump in front of a bullet.’’