Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden made the morning show rounds on Thursday to respond to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s convention speech, and journalists at NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CNN all encouraged Biden to strongly confront his Republican counterpart, as if Palin has been enjoying some sort of honeymoon from criticism over the past few days.
CNN’s John Roberts pressed Biden: “Before her speech last night you said that you were not going to attack Governor Palin. Are you feeling a little differently this morning?”
NBC’s Matt Lauer similarly pleaded: “Sarah Palin made a speech last night...It was tough. It was direct, hard words for Senator Obama. I’m curious, has this taken away any concern you may have had about tone or words you choose in the coming weeks?”
ABC’s Robin Roberts posed virtually the same question: “Sarah Palin went after Barack Obama. Do you need to change your tone to get your point across?”
And on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough asked Biden if he would take off the gloves now that Palin had “started punching away” at the Democrats: “So anyway, Senator Biden, a lot of people talking this morning about Sarah Palin. We had heard all this talk about how she would be too delicate and too gentle for you, and you couldn’t go after her hard. After she took off those gloves and started punching away at Barack Obama, are you going to take off yours in the vice-presidential debate and feel free to go after her pretty hard?”
For some reason, CBS’s Maggie Rodriguez failed to get the memo. She actually challenged Biden about his campaign’s decision to run a pro-abortion radio ad that preposterously claims “As President, John McCain will make abortion illegal....We can’t let John McCain take away our right to choose.”
Rodriguez suggested to Biden that the ad was in poor taste coming on the heels of news that Palin’s daughter is five-months pregnant: “Why release it when there's so much attention on her 17-year-old daughter choosing to have a baby? People are criticizing the timing of that ad.”
Biden lamely claimed that the issue was above his pay grade: “I haven't seen the ad, and you talk about my pay grade, I didn't -- I haven't seen the ad, and I didn't even know that even an ad was released.”
On CNN, American Morning co-host John Roberts also hit Biden with a challenging question, about why his Senate office is “doing business” with a lobbying firm that includes Biden’s son, Hunter. Biden said he’s never been lobbied by his son, and rationalized: “I don't meet with lobbyists....My staff does. And I don't mean -- when I say lobbyists, I don't even meet with interest groups out there. My staff does.”
And on ABC’s Good Morning America, Biden agreed that media coverage of Palin had been “outrageous,” “totally unfair,” and “sexist.” Biden told Robin Roberts: “The truth is some of the stuff that the press has said about -- and others have said about the governor, I think -- are outrageous.....Some of the stuff said has just been over the top, totally unfair and I think it has been sexist, and I think the way the Governor has handled it has been admirable.”
Here are the questions posed to Biden on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, as transcribed by the MRC’s Justin McCarthy, Kyle Drennen, Scott Whitlock and Lyndsi Thomas:
# ABC’s Good Morning America, questions posed by co-host Robin Roberts:
ROBERTS: What did you think -- good to talk with you too. What did you think of Governor Palin's speech last night?
SENATOR JOE BIDEN: Well, because we were flying in, I only caught the last two-thirds of it because my plane didn't get in. She started while I was still in the air....
ROBERTS: Did you hear enough of her views? I know you said going in that you wanted to hear not -- yes, about her, but that you couldn't really form an opinion and the American people couldn't form an opinion until you heard more of her views as opposed to John McCain's views. Are you satisfied?
ROBERTS: You say those kind things about John McCain. You've said those in the past because he is a good friend of yours. Sarah Palin went after Barack Obama. Do you need to change your tone to get your point across?
BIDEN: No, I'm not going to change my tone....[Talking about anti-Obama lines in the speech] They're good, funny lines, I got to admit. I'm glad they weren't about me. You know, I'm sitting here thinking, whoa, look at that zinger and they were well delivered.
ROBERTS: Then you did miss some of the speech. Then you did miss some of the speech because they did have-
BIDEN: She went to me?
ROBERTS: -at your expense. Actually Rudy Giuliani did but I want to ask you about. I want to--
BIDEN: Ah, well Rudy. Well, look, Rudy, I know Rudy. Remember I said. All Rudy -- did he talk about anything about 9/11? You usually as I said a noun, a verb and, you know, this guy is 9/11. I mean everything is about 9/11 with Rudy and, but if he did more than that, but he's a good guy. We're used to this stuff, Rudy and I.
ROBERTS: And a final question. We talked to Cindy McCain and we're hear her conversation with Diane in just a moment. And she charged sexism. She said that the media, our remarks toward Sarah Palin have been sexist.
BIDEN: The truth is some of the stuff that the press has said about -- and others have said about the governor, I think, are outrageous. I just think the way the governor handled it has just been -- I've been admiring of the way she's handled it and I think this stuff about how can she be a governor and a vice president, raise three kids? Come on. That's -- whoever those folks are don't know any strong women. They haven't lived in a household like mine where my wife, you know, raised our kids, dealt with my career, taught full time. She's in a classroom today right now and she earned her doctorate at night. You know, or, you know, my whole family. So I just think some of the stuff said has just been over the top, totally unfair and I think it has been sexist and I think the way the governor has handled it has been admirable.
# The Early Show, questions posed by co-host Maggie Rodriguez:
RODRIGUEZ: Joining me now from Virginia Beach is Barack Obama's running mate, Senator Joe Biden. Good morning, Senator....How do you think your Republican counterpart did here last night?
BIDEN: Well, my plane was landing, I only caught the last two-thirds of the speech, but I was impressed. I think it was a skillfully delivered political speech with confidence and directness....
RODRIGUEZ: We did hear a lot of attacks on Senator Barack Obama, and I'm sure by now-
BIDEN: Yeah, you did.
RODRIGUEZ: -you've read the quote in the paper. 'He's written two memoirs but not a single law.' How do you defend his experience?
RODRIGUEZ: But Senator, you had a jab of your own or what was interpreted as a jab, your campaign did, when you released that ad about abortion, an issue that you and Senator Palin disagree with. Why release it when there's so much attention on her 17-year-old daughter choosing to have a baby? People are criticizing the timing of that ad.
BIDEN: Well, to tell you the truth -- to tell you the truth, I haven't seen the ad, and you talk about my pay grade, I didn't -- I haven't seen the ad, and I didn't even know that even an ad was released. And by the way, this -- one of the things that should be off limits -- and you -- this comes from somebody who has been, for all my career, had this view -- I think children are off limits. I think it's scurrilous to talk about anything having to do her children. Look, millions of American families, including all of our families, go through family crises. I think the way the Governor's handled it is the way a parent should handle it. And, you know, look, I just think -- I just think -- I just think these -- I just think it's way out of bounds to talk about the kind of stuff that relates to her family.
RODRIGUEZ: No one will disagree with you on that, Senator Joe Biden, thank you.
BIDEN: Oh, a lot of people do disagree, unfortunately.
RODRIGUEZ: Thanks for your time.
# NBC’s Today, questions posed by Matt Lauer:
MATT LAUER: Senator Joe Biden is the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic side. Hi, Senator. Good morning.
JOE BIDEN: Hey, Matt. How are you doing?
LAUER: I'm doing fine. Game on. Sarah Palin made a speech last night.
BIDEN: I guess so.
LAUER: Yeah. It was tough. It was direct, hard words for Senator Obama. I'm curious, has this taken away any concern you may have had about tone or words you choose in the coming weeks?
BIDEN: Well, look, I'm not going to change my tone....
LAUER: Well, it wasn't all about attacks- It wasn't all about attacks. It was about experience. It was trying to lay to rest some of the fears that seemed to be out there about her level of experience, and for the doubters out there, these were her words. She said, and since her “opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience,” she's referring to hers as a small-town mayor, “Let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” It's a direct reference to a key biographical element of Barack Obama. That his days-- all that he's learned as community organizer in Chicago. Did she manage to diminish that experience?
BIDEN: I don't think so. Look, the American public's pretty smart. The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama's done a great deal since he was a community organizer....
LAUER: We're going to get some head-to-head picture there when you two go at each other in a debate. And if I'm Sarah Palin, not to put words in into Governor Palin's mouth, I'm going say this about you: I'm going to say, “Look, you have no executive experience. I'm the governor of a state. I balance a budget. My state holds the key to 20 percent of this country's energy reserves. The buck stops with me. I'm not one of 100 voices in the U.S. Senate.” How are you going to you answer it?
BIDEN: You'll hear it when I answer it.
LAUER: Well, give me a preview, a little bit, because that's a subject we'll be talking a lot about over the next six weeks.
BIDEN: I'm not going to- I'm not going- Look, I'm not going to give you a preview....
LAUER: You bring up Pakistan and Afghanistan. I mean, the pundits say that obviously one of the key elements to your resume is foreign affairs. Even John McCain has admitted you were an expert and someone that he would have gone to for advice on that. So, are you going to make great hay out of her lack of foreign affairs experience and even her lack of travel outside the United States?
LAUER: Let me just end on one more question about Governor Palin. You know, when her name was first introduced as John McCain's running mate, there was a lot of people who said, what? This is a surprise. This is a shock. Does it seem now after what you've seen over the last five or six days, senator that she's going to pose a bigger problem than expected for the Democratic Party?
BIDEN: Oh, I think she's going to be formidable....
LAUER: Senator Joe Biden. Senator, nice to spend time with you this morning. Thanks very much.
BIDEN: Thanks, Matt.
# CNN’s American Morning, questions posed by John Roberts:
JOHN ROBERTS: Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin last night, mixing in some attacks on Barack Obama while also touting her own experience. Our next guest will debate Governor Palin in October, October 2nd in St. Louis. Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Joe Biden joins us from Virginia Beach this morning. Good morning, Senator....This first opportunity to talk to you since you were nominated. Big congratulations to you. Before her speech last night you said that you were not going to attack Governor Palin. Are you feeling a little differently this morning?
BIDEN: No, I'm not going to attack her, John....
ROBERTS: I can see that you're already playing the game of raising expectations for her. Last night --
BIDEN: Look, you watched her last night. She was good. She was really good.
ROBERTS: She was very effective. She was very effective. Last night in her speech she was almost mocking in tone about the Democratic ticket, talking about a lack of experience on the part of Senator Obama, also playing to what some analysts have said is a lack of substance in his rhetoric. Does he need to put more meat on the bones in terms of how he, what he talks about, how he talks about it in the next 60 days?
ROBERTS: You know, Senator, now that the campaign is fully launched here a lot of people are asking a number of different questions about experience, background, things that have happened over the last few years. One of the big items that's on the agenda here is that of change, doing business differently in Washington, the influence of lobbyists. Your office has had contact with the lobbying firm of which your son is a member, your son, Hunter, is a member. I want to ask you, has he ever lobbied you directly?
BIDEN: I can look you right straight in the eye and guarantee you my son has never, ever, ever lobbied me.
BIDEN: And, you know, it’s uh, we've never talked about a single client that he has had. And he only has a few clients anyway. So, you know, this is --
ROBERTS: But, Senator --
BIDEN: I understand it's fair game.
ROBERTS: Senator, is it even appropriate if for your office to be doing business with the firm that employs him?
BIDEN: Well, my son doesn't share in any of those revenues. I think it's appropriate for my office, look, I'm, of all the senators of the United States Senate, I'm the one who has, I believe this to be true, I just speak for myself, is that I don't meet with lobbyists. I don't meet with lobbyists. And that started off as an accident because early on in my career I didn't have time to do it and I've just never done it. My staff does. And I don't mean -- when I say lobbyists, I don't even meet with interest groups out there. My staff does. So look, what people are going to have to do is take a look at my record and of reform and take a look at Barack Obama....
ROBERTS: Senator, It's great to talk to you. And I hope we'll be talking to you a lot more in the course of the next 60 days and looking forward to that debate on October 2nd.
BIDEN: Well, I'm not sure I am now after seeing this. Thanks.
ROBERTS: You’re raising those expectations again. Thanks Senator.