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Female Voters Speak Out On Palin

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And I'm Renee Montagne. We're going to spend this part of the program talking about the vice presidential candidates. And we'll start with Democrat Joe Biden. He's attracted a lot less attention than his Republican counterpart, Sarah Palin. But Biden has been on the stump almost constantly. This week, he was in the hard-fought Upper Midwest, Michigan and Ohio, focusing on the economy and attacking Republican presidential nominee John McCain. In short, Biden has been doing exactly what candidates for vice president have always done. NPR's Don Gonyea is traveling with him.

DON GONYEA: I'm on the road this week with Joe Biden. It all feels kind of timeless.

Unidentified Bandleader: One and two and set and go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARCHING BAND)

GONYEA: It could be almost any high school marching band in any small town. In this case, it's Maumee, Ohio, and the band is wearing the purple and gold of the Panthers of Maumee High. A big topic this week is the economy and the turmoil on Wall Street. Predictably, Biden aimed some of the blame at John McCain, noting that the Republican presidential candidate began one day this week calling the fundamentals of the economy strong.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIDEN CAMPAIGN RALLY IN MAUMEE, OHIO)

JOE BIDEN: Two hours later - literally, I'm not making this up - at 11 o'clock, as we Catholics say, John had an epiphany.

Senator Biden: At 11 o'clock, John McCain said that this is - we're in great economic crisis. Well, ladies and gentleman, this boy had what they call a political epiphany, not a policy epiphany.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD LAUGHING)

GONYEA: The not-so-subtle references to Catholicism are a not-so-subtle reminder of something Biden shares with many voters here in the industrial part of Northern Ohio. Catholics are a key demographic here in this state and in neighboring Michigan and Pennsylvania. And Biden's speech in Maumee was peppered with such references. Moments after the epiphany line, Biden talked about John McCain's frequent praise of Bush administration economic policies.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIDEN CAMPAIGN RALLY IN MAUMEE, OHIO)

BIDEN: As, again, we say, bless me father for I have sinned. Give me a break. We have made - seriously, that's his comment - we have made great economic progress during the Bush years.

GONYEA: If you're wondering when you'll get a reference to Biden's sainted Catholic mother, it came later in the day in Wooster. But back in Maumee, near the end of his speech Biden tossed in yet another biblical reference. This time it was on McCain's promise to crack down on greed on Wall Street.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIDEN CAMPAIGN RALLY IN MAUMEE, OHIO)

BIDEN: So let's take a look at John's conversion here. Something happened on the road to Damascus.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD LAUGHING)

BIDEN: John fell off his horse, but he got back up on the same horse.

GONYEA: Joe Biden's road show is not nearly as extensive as that of Republican Sarah Palin. There's none of the celebrity buzz that is so evident at her rallies. But Biden is drawing crowds of committed Democrats, including lots of union members who have long seen Joe Biden as a friend. Al Silac(ph) has been a member of the Electrical Workers Union for three decades.

AL SILAC: Joe has been around for a long time. It's not a flashy pick, but like I say, he's supported labor, so. He tells things like they are, and that's what people need to be told, the facts.

GONYEA: Last night, Biden drew several thousand in Wooster, Ohio. Most of his rallies draw only hundreds, but they tend to be a specific kind of voter. Lots of labor guys, often Catholics. They're constituencies Barack Obama had trouble with during his primary fight with Hillary Clinton. If they are ambivalent, it could mean real trouble in a state like Ohio, the state everyone agrees made the difference in 2004 and may well again in 2008. Today Biden continues his bus tour with stops in Canton and then in Youngstown. Don Gonyea, NPR News, in Maumee, Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Ina Jaffe is a veteran NPR correspondent covering the aging of America. Her stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered have focused on older adults' involvement in politics and elections, dating and divorce, work and retirement, fashion and sports, as well as issues affecting long term care and end of life choices. In 2015, she was named one of the nation's top "Influencers in Aging" by PBS publication Next Avenue, which wrote "Jaffe has reinvented reporting on aging."