Advice from Biden: Don’t underestimate O’Donnell and Palin

September 28, 2010

The only Democrat who has run against, and defeated, both Republicans Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin says don’t sell either of them short.

biden4“Take them both very seriously,” Vice President Joe Biden said Monday in an MSNBC interview.

Biden, a former senator from Delaware, defeated the state’s Republican Senate nominee in his last senate race. He also went head-to-head with Palin in 2008 when the former Alaska governor was Republican John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

“Treat them with respect and don’t get diverted by all these silly things that they may or may not have said that have nothing to do with policy,” Biden said when asked what he could teach Democrats about how to campaign against the two “Tea Party” favorites.

Since winning the Delaware Republican primary, O’Donnell’s past television appearances have come back to haunt her. And she’s been parodied on Saturday Night Live, just as Palin was during her vice presidential run.

But there’s no time for such distractions, Biden tells fellow Democrats.

“What we should be doing, the Democrats, is focusing on what they are offering and those who agree with them and what they are against and compare it to what we are for and what we’re against,” Biden added. “When we do that, we’ll do just fine.”

Biden said O’Donnell’s win in Delaware was a wake-up call — and not just for Republicans.

“Well this is a wake-up call for Democrats, we have to show up and make our case and focus on the differences, not the personalities,” he said.

The vice president may be thinking beyond 2010.  The speculation is that Palin might run for president in 2012.  But she’s keeping her options open — for now.

Photo credit:  REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani  (Biden in Baghdad, Sept. 1 2010)


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This is so sad, that this pathetic piece of human mediocrity called Sarah Palin is managing to make such a fuss. Uneducated, unintelligent, and unaware of it! What a great combo for prez! (not that GWBush was ever stopped by that)

Posted by Marlock | Report as abusive

Best advice I’ve heard yet about dealing with those two.

Keep the debates about issues, not personalities. We got more than enough of that junk from the tabloids and talk shows…

Get down to issues that really matter and forget the “I can see Russia from my house” kind of statements (which was really a spoof by Tina Fey anyway.

We need to be discriminating and elect people that can “roll up their sleeves” and get the job done in these mid-terms.

Posted by The_Traveler | Report as abusive

For all his faults, it seems that Biden doesn’t share one of the biggest weaknesses common in his party. He acknowledges the Republicans, their ideas, and their constituents. To many other Democrats prefer to totally ignore them so long as there’s a liberal majority in power. Biden might be a good agent for cultivating compromise and cooperation later on.

“Treat them with respect” he says. How unusually classy for a politician. He advises his comrades to keep debates about the issues. We’ll see if they are smart and professional enough to actually do it. I have my doubts.

Posted by WRL | Report as abusive

Biden may be not be the brightest light bulb in the closet, but he has got one thing right, and agreed with @WRL, its a “classy” and refreshing statement from a politician.

Posted by cynicalme | Report as abusive


@ WRL, classy? This guy routinely drops the f bomb. What class? The man is a fool! Wow…

search the internet, you’ll find actual video evidence. That’s something you can take seriously…

Posted by BHOlied | Report as abusive

This guy (Biden) has said more dumb things in under two years than Bush has in his entire life.

The only difference is that Biden is on the side of the media and Bush was not.

As Traveler’s comment points out, people believe what they hear over and over again (Tina Fey’s comment being attributed to Palin).

The media beat Bush to a pulp because they disagreed with his policies. They give Biden a pass.

Biden is a loser of a man, a career politician (of which there should be none) and a disgrace to American politics.

Posted by BHOlied | Report as abusive

@MHOlied I was just talking about his comments quoted here, which should have been clear from the way I stated it. You are right that Biden is a buffoon, but every so often he’ll spurt some interesting and articulate insights like those in this article.

You are also right that Bush got a bum rap in terms of his portrayal by the media. I’ve seen interviews where he spoke without prepared notes or speeches, and he came across as far more articulate and intelligent than anyone who only watched mainstream coverage of his speeches would expect. He had plenty of bad moments, too, but they wound up overshadowing everything else.

Even now, people tend to start by criticizing Bush’s intelligence before they attack his policies.

Biden does have issues with being discrete with his language in public situations. He’s not the only one, though. You might recall that Cheney had some similar problems, but he was more aggressive. He was more intelligent and under control than Biden, but he still had lapses.

One way or another, though, this article and Biden’s statements have hit on a key issue. Success as a politician in the US political process is more about cultivating an image than focusing on actual matters of policy. Vague generic labels and dumbed-down concepts mask complex bills with consequences reaching far beyond what actually gets media attention.

There is definitely some irony to be found in Biden’s comments. I think it’s fair to say that Obama’s charisma was a huge part of what helped him win the presidential election. He also tapped into voter anger over Bush’s foreign policy decisions, the economic crisis, and the large deficit and debt.

Palin and O’Donnel are also propelled mainly by voter anger and their own personal charisma just like Obama was in 2008. The greatest weakness of these “rising star” candidates will be specific policy questions and questions of hands-on experience. Palin’s credentials in terms of past work experience are especially weak. Biden recognized and used that to his advantage in the vice presidential debates.

So, basically, Biden knows that appeals to voter emotion and battles of personalities would go badly for Democratic candidates. He’s advising fellow party members to stick with hard political issues instead.

Anyway, @Traveler has hit the nail on the head. The “I can see Russia from my house” quote is a prime example of super simplified catchphrases growing into the defining image of a candidate. They often have a remote basis in fact, but become blown hugely out of proportion and occlude any real evidence or data.

This can be totally devastating. Anybody who was around for the 2004 election knows John Kerry was a “waffler” and that he received an undeserved purple heart. I doubt anybody remembers any of his proposed policies or opinions on key issues. He was a terrible candidate and deserved to lose (even to Bush), but it was his image not the issues that did him in.

Posted by WRL | Report as abusive

“…don’t get diverted by all these silly things that they may or may not have said that have nothing to do with policy.” – Ha! Spectacular. But how is this “not underestimating” them…? I assume it’s more about not underestimating the power of the un-convince-able blockheads that support them.

Posted by pocketdare | Report as abusive

Biden is an arrogant foul mouthed hot tempered punk that makes McCain seem like a choir boy. Libs used to complain that Condoleeza Rice was scary then they got Pelosi. Then there’s Barry who ran up more dept than Bush is just as ineffective and easily has committed as many dopey social gaffs. I got to hand it to the Dems they really put together a Dream Team. Thanks!

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

“You are also right that Bush got a bum rap in terms of his portrayal by the media. I’ve seen interviews where he spoke without prepared notes or speeches, and he came across as far more articulate and intelligent than anyone who only watched mainstream coverage of his speeches would expect.”

And the hilarity ensues. Please don’t count speaking on par with the undereducated as articulate. He may not have always stuttered, or made up words, but Bush was severely less than articulate.

Posted by gurari | Report as abusive

Insane. And the GOP want O’Donnell to be a leader? Thank God. Citizens need an example of an insane leader picked by Palin. Sarah Palin handed the GOP Christine O’Donnell on a silver platter. Karl Rove warned you. I never – Never – never thought I would say this, but Republicans should have listened to Karl Rove. Thanks to Christine O’Donnell, GOP leaders have lost their chance at winning the majority in Congress. They are spending money like mad to try to save O’Donnell from herself, but the truth about Christine is flowing faster than the ink at Rockerfeller Center as writers of Saturday Night Live find new material based on “facts” about O’Donnell. Mötley Crüe said it best from a song off their 1989 album Dr. Feelgood “Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away”

Thomas Chi
Selling Sex with Sarah Palin

Posted by ThomasChi | Report as abusive