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More headlines: Joe Biden on Principles & Values

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1987: Heckled for exaggerating academic record

In his 1987 president bid, Biden was caught by a C-SPAN camera telling a tormenter, "I went to law school on a full scholarship, the only one in my class to have an academic scholarship. In the first year, I decided I didn't want to be in law school and ended up in the bottom 2/3 of my class and then I decided I wanted to stay, went back to law school and ended up in the top half of my class. I won the international moot court competition."

Biden also claimed that at University of Delaware he had finished with three undergraduate degrees. His law school records showed, however, that in his first year at Syracuse he was ranked 80th out of 100 students and in his final year 76th out of 85. Also, his full academic scholarship was half based on need, and rather than three undergraduate degrees, he earned one with a dual major in history and political science. Also, he had shared the moot court award with other students. Biden recalled later of his presidential campaign, "The floodgate had opened."

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.194-195 Oct 5, 2010

Cheney has been most dangerous VP in history

Q: You mentioned that the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?

PALIN: Yeah, I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there.

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history. The idea he doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president, that’s the Executive Branch. The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he’s part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin Oct 2, 2008

McCain no maverick on education, health care, and debt

PALIN: Change is coming. And John McCain is the leader of that reform.

BIDEN: I’ll be very brief. John McCain has been no maverick on the things that matter to people’s lives. He voted four out of five times for eorge Bush’s budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he’s got there. He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan. He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. e has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college. He’s not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin Oct 2, 2008

Focus on Iraq, ending torture, healthcare, and education

In the first year of my presidency, I will call the Joint Chiefs in to end the war in Iraq. I would in my inaugural address make it clear to the world that we were abandoning the Bush policy with regard to torture and holding prisoners. By picking things Americans value the most and we can take on interest groups the quickest on, I’d insure every single child in the US and provide catastrophic health insurance for every child. I would implement the preschool education proposal that I have here.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

Giuliani is truly not qualified to be president

The irony is, Giuliani, probably the most underqualified man since Bush to seek the presidency is talking about any of the people here. There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11. There’s nothing else, and I mean this sincerely. Here’s a man who brags about how he made the city safe. It was the Biden crime bill that became the Clinton crime bill that allowed him to do that. They wipe it out. He remains silent. The 9/11 Commission comes along and says the way to keep your city safe is to do the following things. He’s been silent. He’s done nothing. Now he’s talking about he’s going to go in and he will demonstrate to Iran, he’s going to in fact lay down the law. This man is truly not qualified to be president. I’m looking forward to running against Giuliani. With regard to my experience, in 1979 I led a delegation of 19 senators negotiating the START agreement with Brezhnev. I was deeply involved in Bosnia. I introduced the first public financing bill.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Next president has no margin of error, post-Bush

We know how badly this president has ruined this country. We know how terrible we are internationally. I think the next president, when he or she takes office, better understand two things. One, they’re going to be left with virtually no margin of error. And two, they better understand and believe what it’s worth losing over if they’re going to get anything done. That’s the president I’d be.
Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 8, 2007

1988: Presidential run intended as base-building for 1992

After President Reagan won a second term in 1984, the question of my running was back on the table. It would be a wide-open field in 1988--no incumbent and no heir apparent on the Democratic side. I was pretty sure the most formidable Democrat, Mario Cuomo, wasn’t going to run. And when I took a look at likely candidates--Gary Hart, Richard Gephardt, Jesse Jackson--I felt I measured up. I was just 42, but after a decade on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and nearly that long on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I knew the world and America’s place in it in a way few politicians did.

If someone had hooked me up to a lie detector in 1988 and asked if I was going to be a fully announced candidate for 1988, I would have said no. If they had asked me if I was building a base to run for president in 1992 or 1996, I would have said, “Absolutely.”

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.143-146 Jul 31, 2007

1988: plagiarized law school paper, but not malevolently

During the 1988 presidential race, there was a new story bubbling about problems I’d had in law school. Now, in addition to everything else, I had to answer for my screw-up in Legal Methods 22 years earlier.

This was an academic mistake. I hadn’t been trying to cheat. My gurus advised me to just say I did it and ask for forgiveness. I said, “It was an academic mistake. I wasn’t trying to hide it. If I was trying to hide it, why would I cite this article that no one else in the class found? I didn’t cheat.“

I’d made a stupid mistake 22 years earlier, I told the press. ”I was wrong, but I did not intentionally move to mislead anybody. I am in this race to stay. I am in this race to win.“ The NY Times headline was ”Biden admits plagiarism in School but says it was not ‘malevolent.’“ [As a result, Biden withdrew from the presidential race.]

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.198-202 Jul 31, 2007

Embellishment forced withdrawal from 1988 presidential race

Q: Sometimes your embellishment gets you in trouble. In 1988 you withdrew as a candidate, because, as was written at the time: “ Biden’s trouble began with the revelation that he had used, without attribution, long portions of a moving address by the British Labor Party leader, Neil Kinnock. It emerged he had also used passages from the speeches of Robert Kennedy & Hubert Humphrey. It was revealed that Biden had been disciplined as a first-year law student for using portions of a law review article in a paper without proper attribution and was hit again by a videotape of his appearance in New Hampshire in which he misstated several facts about his academic career.“ That was a problem.

A: It was.

Q: And you learned from it?

A: I did. It was 20 years ago, and I learned from it. People have had 20 years to judge since then whether or not I am the man they see or I am what I was characterized as being 20 years ago. I learned a lot from it, and, let me tell you, it was a bitter way to learn it.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Apr 29, 2007

Biggest mistake was thinking he could work with George Bush

Q What is the most significant professional mistake you have made in the past four years?

A: Overestimating the competence of this administration and underestimating the arrogance. I really thought, working with the secretary of state and with other Republicans, I could impact on George Bush’s thinking. And that was absolutely not within my capacity.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Plans to seek presidential nomination in 2008

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said yesterday he plans to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 unless he decides later this year that he has little chance of winning. “My intention is to seek the nomination,” Biden said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I know I’m supposed to be more coy with you. I know I’m supposed to tell you that I’m not sure. But if, in fact, I think that I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I’m going to seek the nomination.
Source: 2008 Speculation by Dan Balz in Washington Post Jun 20, 2005

Conducted Bork hearings in a scholarly manner, not emotional

[Supreme Court nominee] Bork was a distinguished academic but an ideological bomb-thrower; an argument could be made that he was not merely a conservative but a radical reactionary. The leaders of the anti-Bork coalition decided to have that argument made substantively, by constitutional scholars, rather than emotionally; activists like Ralph Nader and Molly Yard, of the National Organization for Women, were persuaded not to testify. Nader did meet with Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, before the hearings began and said that the Bork nomination, if handled correctly, could be a "constituency-building exercise" for the liberal activists--that is, a major direct mail fund-raising opportunity. Biden was disgusted. "I told him no," he recalled, "and I'm proud of the way those hearings were run."

Ralph Nader's personal asceticism and low-key style masked a sour and unrelenting demagogue--and he clearly understood the new political terrain better than Biden did.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 97-98 Feb 11, 2003

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Page last updated: Sep 12, 2012