By: Alexis Garrett Stodghill
Vice President Joe Biden addressed the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), using the occasion to underscore the numerous accomplishments of the Obama Administration. Biden spoke to a room of hundreds of African-American media professionals. Biden — known for speaking so directly at times that he causes political stirs — used that famous penchant for straight talk to boldly portray how much President Obama has done for America. He started by stating what has not worked — GOP policies.
“Understand that in Washington, D.C., a gaffe is when you tell the truth, so be careful — do not tell the truth,” Vice President Biden said to uproarious laughter at the beginning of his speech. Biden — known for speaking so directly at times that he causes political stirs — used that famous penchant for straight talk to boldly portray how much President Obama has done for America. He started by stating what has not worked — GOP policies. The two parties are offering starkly different alternatives on how to proceed… most of all on economic policy”. I don’t have to explain to you what we inherited…. The middle class was in free fall,” Biden stated. “Nine million Americans lost their jobs, $16 trillion dollars in wealth evaporated. Some of the wealth you had in your homes…went up in smoke. At the same time this was happening, the [income of the ] top one percent grew by 275 percent in the last decade to an average of $1.3 million per year. And that wealth didn’t trickle down. There’s no evidence that it did.” Clearly, Biden’s ability to connect viscerally with all Americans based on common working and middle class roots allows the president’s message to resonate across racial lines. Time will tell regarding whether this approach also influences swing voters. He invited participants of the NABJ convention to consider what is at stake in the 2012 presidential election. “This ain’t your father’s Republican party,” Biden said alluding to the austere plans the GOP has outlined for America’s future.
“Let me leave you with a quote from a man who just passed away,” Biden said, telling a story that set up his closing remarks. “His name was Kevin White. He was the mayor of Boston… He was the Barack Obama of mayors back in 1970… Keep it in mind as you judge us, and as you report on us.” During a period in 1973 when the mayor was having a tough time, “He said, ‘Folks, look. Don’t compare me to the almighty,’” Biden recounted, “‘compare me to the alternative.’ We’re the best alternative now.” At these words, the crowd rose to its feet with enthusiastic cheers. Taking in his standing ovation, Vice President Biden affirmed to the room of Black reporters, “That’s what this race is about. May God protect our troops.” He then left the stage with a hearty, “Thank you.”
Biden’s use of specific numbers to bring focus to the benefits of President Obama’s leadership marks a tactical turning point in the re-election campaign.