Almost four years to the day after President Barack Obama picked him as his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to supporters at a fundraiser for the president in Bridgehampton on Friday afternoon.
The fundraiser was held at the Ocean Avenue home of Ellen Chesler and Matthew Mallow. Mr. Biden was joined by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and their granddaughter, Finnegan Biden. Other prominent guests included the actor Nathan Lane, musician James Taylor, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Frank Lautenberg, and U.S. Representative Tim Bishop.
About 300 people attended the outdoor event, according to a campaign official. Tickets ranged in price from $500 for youth to $10,000.
Mr. Biden, who was introduced by his wife, spoke on a range of issues, focusing mainly on the economy, jobs and the challenge of working with Republicans in Congress. He spoke of a need for the country’s middle class to be expanded, and he painted a picture of the harsh economic realities that many people are facing in today’s economy.
“There’s a lot of people going to bed tonight staring at the ceiling, wondering whether they’re going to be living in that house a month from now,” he said. “There’s a whole hell of a lot of people who’ve made that longest walk up a short flight of stairs to their kids’ bedrooms, saying, ‘Honey, we can’t live here anymore.’ And most of these people lost it all through no fault of their own. None.”
Mr. Biden, who was chosen by President Obama as his running mate on August 23, 2008, defended the president’s economic record. He said the president has made some “tough decisions,” and that the private sector has been averaging a growth of about 150,000 jobs a month for the last 29 months.
“You know it’s not enough,” he said. “We know it’s not enough.”
The vice president also said the country is “at a hinge of history.” Republicans, he said, “basically totally obstruct anything that would help the country.” He stressed that Republicans have made it crystal clear what they intend to do, referring to Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget plan, a package that he quoted his friend, former President Bill Clinton, as calling “the previous eight years on steroids.”
“And they characterize themselves as bold and gutsy and new,” Mr. Biden said. “I don’t see anything bold about seeing to it that you all get an additional tax break beyond what’s there, while at the same time you eviscerate Medicare. I don’t see what’s gutsy about going out there and deciding that you’re going to knock 19 million people, 200,000 kids, off of Medicaid and Head Start. I don’t see what’s bold and gusty. I don’t see what’s new.”
He stressed that November will mark a decision for voters between two starkly different futures for America.
“We’re going to make a decision at this election about choosing two fundamentally different paths,” Mr. Biden said. “Fundamentally different. And I am absolutely, I am completely certain that if we have an opportunity to continue the path we moved on that this country is going to reach new heights and new capacities far beyond anything in its history.”
Mr. Lane opened the event, poking fun at Republicans, namely presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and also directing a few barbs at Mr. Biden.
“Welcome to Joe Biden, unchained,” he began, referring to a recent comment Mr. Biden made in Virginia to an audience largely made up of African-Americans.
“I’m here to welcome all of you to someone else’s home,” Mr. Lane continued. “Please, on your way out, feel free to go through the medicine cabinet and take whatever you need. Or, as Republicans call it, our plan to save Medicare.”
He mentioned that actress Edie Falco, a co-host, couldn’t be at the fundraiser with him because she was filming “Nurse Jackie,” a Showtime series. “I love ‘Nurse Jackie,’” he said. “She can’t get through the day without Vicodin, Adderall, Percocet, Xanax and Oxycodone—which, oddly enough, also happens to be the names of Mitt Romney’s five children,” he said.
The audience laughed, and he continued to make cracks at Mr. Romney and his recently announced running mate, U.S. Representative Paul Ryan. He pointed out that Mr. Romney is fluent in French, so “he can flip-flop in two languages,” and criticized Mr. Ryan’s approach to fixing Medicare: “I think his precise words to Medicare were ‘I’ll fix you, my pretty,’ as he rode off on his broom,” Mr. Lane said.