Vice President Joe Biden fires up Tacoma in midday rally at University of Washington
Appearing alongside Murray and Maria Cantwell, Biden — clad in a purple University of Washington jacket and cap — used his speech to paint a stark contrast between Democrats and Republicans. "This isn't your father's Republican Party," Biden said, reminding activists that the days when the GOP could be counted to serve as the loyal opposition were long gone. (Nowadays, "GOP" stands for Graveyard of Progress, not Grand Old Party).
"I love these guys talking about deficits. Before I could turn on my computer — in the West Wing — we were handed a bill for one trillion, three hundred billion dollars, because Bush put two wars, a prescription drug benefit, and a tax cut on your credit card... without paying one single penny. Literally, I'm not making this up. It sounds like science fiction. But it's real!" Biden thundered.
"I love these guys. They said, let the auto industry go under, with somewhere in the order of a half a million to seven hundred thousand jobs going with it. They were feeding it, keeping it on life support... We came along. We didn't just lend them money. We said, if you want a chance, you gotta fundamentally reorganize. You gotta get management managing. Well, they went into bankruptcy, they reorganized, and guess what? ... They're paying us back! Already, we have made over thirty five billion in interest, and they will pay it all back."
Biden spent much of his speech praising Patty Murray, but he also singled out Maria Cantwell for her knowledge and foresight.
"Nobody knows Wall Street and how its machinations work better, better than Maria. She's dead right! These banks were leveraged twenty and thirty to one! Playing Russian roulette with your money! Acting like hedge funds!"
Attendees listened with rapt attention as Biden described his own upbringing — retelling a powerful story that has become a staple of his stump speeches. He reflected on the "longest walk" his father had to make to his bedroom after he found out that he no longer had a job. Working fathers and mothers shouldn't have to make that walk, Biden declared. And he's absolutely correct. This is the richest country on earth. Everybody who wants a job should be able to have a job and earn a living wage working that job.
Biden's address lasted about forty five minutes. He was the final speaker; his remarks were preceded by those of Murray, Cantwell, Governor Chris Gregoire, Representative Adam Smith, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland.
Gregoire, who spoke just before the break in between speakers, sounded particularly ready for battle as she summarized the right wing's destructive agenda.
"Republican candidates across America are supporting the repeal of Social Security and Medicare ... opposing the Civil Rights Act... they think laws that protect workers on the job is overreach by government," Gregoire proclaimed, her words punctuated by loud booing.
"One GOP government candidate has dabbled in witchcraft, had a little trouble paying her taxes, and has a fictional resume," Gregoire added to snickering.
"How about that California Republican Senate candidate? Laid off 33,000 workers as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and then left with a forty two million dollar golden parachute? Is that the America we want?" Gregoire asked.
"Here in Washington State, Patty Murray has an [opponent] — the perennial candidate — Dino Rossi. I happen to know Dino Rossi," Gregoire said disdainfully, to a roar of sympathetic laughter. "He does not represent our values! He opposed legislation to extend benefits to help our unemployed workers, and at the same time, he led seminars for realtors [suggesting] how to get a hold of those homes when people's houses were foreclosed on."
When it was her turn to speak, Senator Maria Cantwell piled on with her with her own quips. "The only foreclosure sign I want to see is the one in front of Dino Rossi's campaign," she shouted at one point, to cheers of agreement.
Cantwell spoke for about five minutes before introducing Murray, who seemed to be relishing the moment as she stepped to the microphone to chants of "Patty!"
She quickly took aim at Republicans for trying to pretend that the Bush error never happened, hoping Americans will blame President Obama for our economic woes.
"Like any tough mom — and unlike my opponent — I have a very long memory. And I vowed that on my watch, Main Street would never again be left holding the bag for Wall Street's mistakes," Murray said.
Scoffing at the notion that Democrats have already lost the 2010 midterms, she added, "This year, Republicans are counting on you to have a very short memory. They are actually trying to pop the champagne bottles already."
"But you know what? They don't know us very well."
"When I first ran for the U.S. Senate, no one gave me much of a chance. I was outspent three to one. But with an an army of dedicated volunteers, we overcame the odds — and we won. And with all of you, we're going to do the same thing this year, and win on November 2nd! "
Afterwards, Biden, Murray, and Cantwell stuck around to shake hands and thank activists. Biden, in particular, seemed to be in no hurry, repeatedly posing for photos along the barrier set in front of the stage. He'd take attendees' cameras, and pass them to his own staff or security personnel, so that the resulting shots would show the subjects standing alongside him.
There's nothing like being at a good old Democratic rally. It's heartening to see so many progressive activists gathered together in one place, fired up to work for change. A rally is a chance to hear from elected leaders, sans media filter, and an opportunity to come face to face with a candidate. That's why they are fun and uplifting. Congratulations to Patty Murray's campaign for putting together a memorable event. It was well worth the trip.