Vice President Joe Biden is making news after another foot-in-mouth moment at a Tuesday campaign stop in Virginia. Speaking in front of a mostly black audience, the famously gaffe-prone No. 2 said that Mitt Romney's fiscal policies would "put y'all back in chains," a phrase critics interpreted as a reference to slavery (something Biden denies). Now Republicans, and even some Democrats, are slamming the VP: "If Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate, said that to an African-American audience, there would be calls... for him to get out of the race," said Willie Geist, a co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Is Biden more of a liability to the Commander-in-chief's re-election bid than an asset?
Biden's an embarrassment: "Biden's erratic statements certainly should make Team Obama nervous," says John Fund at National Review. You can bet that if the Democrats had the option to swap him out for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they'd do it in a heartbeat. But with no certainty that Clinton would even take the deal, the "Democrats are stuck with Old Joe" in what's looking to be a very close race. My guess is that "a lot of people will be more nervous about Joe Biden being a heartbeat away from the presidency than about Paul Ryan."
"The trouble with Joe"
And Ryan will challenge Biden in a way Sarah Palin didn't: When Biden goes up against Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, this fall in a nationally televised debate, says Taylor Marsh at her blog, the odds won't be in his favor. Ryan isn't just in his prime, he's a "practiced politician with real gifts" and "a mind that can regurgitate factoids wrapped in a quip." You can bet Ryan will go after his much older opponent and, together with Romney, give the incumbents something they didn't have to deal with in 2008: "Two people on the other side with a real competitive vision for the country and the ability to drive that message to the people."
"Obama-Biden versus Romney-Ryan now four-way brawl"
Please. Biden's bluntness is one of his greatest strengths: Biden is an "irrepressible, garrulous, and emotive politician, who's flourished and fumbled through 40 years in national office by practicing politics the old fashioned way — from the gut and without much script," says Jonathan Martin at Politico. For example: On Wednesday, when Biden paid a visit to the memorial honoring victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, reporters were pestering him for a comment. His aides tried to intervene before he had a chance to slip up. But with surprising candor, Biden opened up, recalling his own personal tragedy when he lost his young wife and daughter in a 1972 accident, pausing repeatedly to regain his composure. "It was the side of Biden — comfortable with his emotions, and with a gift for human connection — that makes him appealing to many voters." What detractors don't seem to realize is that "Biden is at his best when he's not being minded."
"Mission Impossible: Managing Joe Biden"
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