Speed Reads

Say it ain't so

Joe Biden got $200,000 for a speech that reportedly helped elect a Republican House member

Former vice president and potential Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gave a paid speech at a Michigan college last October in which he praised Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who was then in the midst of a tight re-election battle — and Biden's remarks, subsequently used in the Republican's messaging, may have helped boost Upton to a narrow victory over his Democratic challenger, The New York Times reports.

In the speech, delivered for a $200,000 fee at Lake Michigan College, Biden described Upton — a long-serving congressman and coauthor of a 2017 bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act — as "one of the finest guys I've ever worked with." Biden, whose eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015, also called Upton "the reason we're going to beat cancer," ostensibly for his work to fund cancer research. Both statements soon appeared in pro-Upton mailers, and Upton referred to the praise in a debate with his opponent, Matt Longjohn.

When asked about Biden's decision to effectively endorse a Republican candidate at the height of the midterms race, a spokesman told the Times that Biden "believes to his core that you can disagree politically on a lot and still work together in good faith on issues of common cause — like funding cancer research." Longjohn, meanwhile, said he was dismayed that Biden "[clapped] Mr. Upton on the back in an establishment political way" — and that when his campaign reached out to Biden for an explanation, "there was nothing but silence."