Biden Visits Charlotte
For the first time since becoming the Democratic nominee for Vice President, Senator Joe Biden visited Charlotte yesterday. He attended a fundraiser and then held a community rally where fans clamored for a chance to shake his hand and snap a photo. It wasn't quite the rock star treatment Barack Obama received when he last came to Charlotte, but it was close. A crowd of more than a thousand ardent supporters turned out for Senator Joe Biden in Charlotte. Many, like Louis Brown, missed previous visits by Presidential candidate Barack Obama and saw Biden as their best chance for a close-up with the Democratic ticket. "I just want to make sure Joe Biden is the good VP I think he should be," said Brown. "I don't know much about Joe Biden." Outside the event, more than a dozen persistent volunteers combed the crowd for other willing supporters. The Obama campaign has repeatedly said it intends to maintain a strong presence in North Carolina, despite the fact the state has elected only Republicans for President since 1976. Already, the Obama campaign claims to have 375 paid staff and 20,000 volunteers in North Carolina, but says it will need many more to win. That's the message Obama campaign field organizer Keith White used to warm up the crowd. "In a few moments Senator Joe Biden will be here and we will no doubt be excited and energized," announced White. "But let me tell you something. That alone will not change what we need to do in these next 51 days. If we're going to win the state of North Carolina, it's going to start right here in this room." Biden took the stage to raucous chants of "Let's Go Joe!" reverberating from the gymnasium walls and dove into a 30 minute speech. First he promised health care reform. "I guarantee you, guarantee you, we will have healthcare for every American at the end of four years that's affordable." Biden further promised that an Obama administration would prohibit health insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and would give Americans access to the same healthcare plan members of Congress receive. He also criticized Republican candidate Senator John McCain for being out of touch with the economic realities of most Americans. "John McCain said, and I quote, 'The fundamentals of our economy are strong. We made great progress economically under Bush,'" said Biden in a slightly sneering tone. "I could walk from here to Greensboro. I wouldn't find a single person who thinks we've made great economic progress, unless I ran into John McCain!" What Biden didn't say is that McCain also acknowledge economic progress brings little comfort to families facing immediate challenges. McCain made the comments during an interview on Bloomberg TV in April. Noticeably absent from Biden's speech was any direct criticism of Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. Nor did he mention the war in Iraq. Biden's close-to-home topics satisfied Charlotte resident Gregory West. "He focused on education, talking about the economy and health care. And I think for most people those are the most pressing issues at this time," said West. "Yes we're concerned about the war. Yes we want our troops to come home. But there are so many domestic issues that we are concerned about, because these are the things that we see right in our face every day." Earlier in the day, Biden implied that he and Obama would return to the area when he told an exclusive group of 60 donors the Democrats take their chances of winning North Carolina very seriously. The poolside party at the Charlotte residence of Crandall Bowles raised 150-thousand dollars for the Obama Victory Fund.