With Joe Biden’s visit Saturday, the running mates on each presidential ticket now have come to Connecticut with the same mission — to collect checks, not to campaign.
Biden was in Kent for a fundraiser. Access was limited to pool coverage.
Here is the pool report of The Courant’s Daniela Altimari:
Vice President Joe Biden attended a private fundraiser Kent Connecticut, a small, affluent community tucked in the hills of Litchfield County on a cloudless and crisp Saturday afternoon. The event was held in a heated white tent on the spacious grounds of the weekend home of Sally and Tony Zunino; tickets started at $250. Audra McDonald performed and guests included Christine Baranski, Polly Bergen, Oliver Platt and Sam Waterston.
Biden, who spoke for 45 minutes, acknowledged his daughter, Ashley Biden, who accompanied him on stage, as well as various Connecticut political dignitaries: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, a candidate for Senate and former state representative and current candidate for Congress, Elizabeth Esty.
“This election — this is not hyperbole — presents the starkest choice in my memory for who is going to lead this country,” Biden told the audience. “In every area we have such a fundamentally different vision…than Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan.”
And those stark differences were display during Thursday’s vice presidential debate, he added. “If anyone had any doubt about what’s at stake on everything from marriage equality to women’s rights, they didn’t have to look very far beyond the debate on Thursday night,” Biden said later in his speech. “Both Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan don’t believe that protecting women’s access to health is a priority. They want to turn back the clock.”
Biden said Ryan and Romney are “decent men, both good fathers, they’re obviously good family men and I believe they believe what they say.”
But, Biden added, both men have wavered when talking about about their past positions, whether the topic was the war in Afghanistan, budgetary matters or health care policy.
“It depends on the hour, it depends on the day. Literally, it depends on the subject and it depends on the audience,” he said as the crowd applauded.
In contrast, with “the guy I serve with” — Predsident Obama — “it depends on only one thing: his word,” Biden said. “What he says, he does.”
Biden repeatedly contrasted Obama with Romney and Ryan, portraying the president as a man of integrity and the GOP team as politically calculating conservatives who’s agenda is deliberately vague.
“They say ‘we’re just going to cut taxes and everything’s going to be OK,”’ Biden said.
But when pressed as to what programs they would cut, Biden said the Republican ticket responds that they will close loopholes. “The moderator asked my opponent Thursday night, would you please name me one…not two, five, 10, just one. They wouldn’t name or couldn’t name a single one.”
Biden said Romney has shown the same tendency toward vagueness when discussing health care policy. After repeatedly pledging to repeal the Obama administration’s health care overhaul, Romney now says “‘we are committed to helping those with preexisting conditions,”’ a fundamental tenet of the health care law.
“Governor, how?” Biden asked, adding that Romney could not explain how.
“Ladies and gentlemen, no specifics,” he said.
Again, he contrasted what he said were the GOP’s shifting positions with Obama’s commitment to doing the right thing, regardless of the political consequences.
He suggested that Ryan and Romney’s comments that the U.S. was ”leading from behind” present considerable risks for the nation’s interests.
“When you ask as I did on Thursday night…’how do you disagree with us in terms of leading from behind, what would you do differently?”’
The Republicans provided “not a single solitary specific,” Biden said. “I know a lot about foreign policy and I know one thing: loose talk is dangerous. The last thing we need is another land war tying us down.”
Near the end of his speech, he spoke about Obama as a man. Obama’s two daughters and three of Biden’s grand-daughters attend the same school and hang out together. One morning, Biden was reminding one of his grand-daughters that she needed to be ready for 9 a.m. Mass the next Sunday.
“She said ‘I can’t go.”’
Biden asked why and she said the girls had a plan to shoot baskets every Sunday morning. The crowd cheered.
Biden said his close bond with the president is what motivites him. “This man’s become my friend,” he said of Obama. One of the things Obama is most passionate about is “that our daughters…and my granddaughters should have…every single solitary opportunity to control their lives as much as my sons and my grandson.”
Biden concluded his comments by thanking the crowd for their financial support. “This is important not only for the next four years but for the next 20 years,” he said. “With your help, we’re doing everything in our power to blunt the false distortions made against the president…to deliver our message to the American people.
Biden said he is confident Obama will win reelection.
“Presidential campaigns are different than any other campaign in one fundamental regard. Every presidential race always comes down to who the American people think possesses the character and conviction,” he said, “and it will not surprise you on that score, I don’t even think it’s close between President Obama and Gov. Romney.”
Biden was introduced by Chris Murphy, who is locked in a tight race with former wrestling CEO Linda McMahon for the Senate. “All of our thanks to the vice president for what he did Thursday night,’” Murphy said. “I’ve been hanging around Linda McMahon a little bit…and I think what Linda McMahon would say what Joe Biden did to Paul Ryan Thursday night is a smackdown.”
The crowd dined on box lunches of chicken or tofu with vegetable stew, hot apple cider and cups of ice cream.