BALTIMORE, Maryland, (CNN) – One day after John McCain questioned Barack Obama’s judgment to be commander-in-chief in front of the conference of the National Guard Association, Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden came to his defense in front of the same gathering Monday, hitting McCain on foreign policy and national security.
Biden also countered John McCain’s accusation that behind Barack Obama’s views “lies the ambition to be president.”
“No one party has a monopoly on virtue or good ideas,” said Biden. “We can question each other’s judgment, that’s what elections are all about but we have to stop questioning each other’s motives and each other’s patriotism.”
“We all put ‘country first,’” he added, borrowing the McCain camp’s slogan. “When John and I send our sons to war, they don’t wear a Republican flag or a Democratic flag. They wear the American flag.”
McCain’s son Jimmy, a Marine lance corporal, has served in Iraq. Biden’s son Beau, Delaware’s attorney general and a member of the state’s National Guard, will be deploying there this fall.
Like McCain’s Sunday remarks, Biden’s lines on patriotism and the American flag got a rousing reception from the crowd. The crowd was silent during his attacks on the Republican nominee.
The senator raised eyebrows among reporters when he veered off his prepared remarks toward the end, replacing short, punchy lines ending with “John was wrong, Barack was right,” with lengthier arguments that referenced his own experience and understanding.
“Whoa!” exclaimed Biden after saying that McCain had asserted before the Iraq war that there was no history of conflict between Sunnis and Shias. “One of my problems is maybe I read too much history. There’s an overwhelming history, an overwhelming history ladies and gentlemen, 1200 years of it, of clashes between Sunnis and Shias.”
“You want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me,” he later added. “I can tell you where they are. John says he’ll follow them to the gates of hell. You don’t have to go to hell. Just go to Pakistan. Just go to that area. That superhighway of terror that exists between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
The original text also ended with the argument that in order to have a strong military, there needs to be a strong economy. Forgoing the planned conclusion, Biden left out the news of the day and a chance to promote the plan Obama was introducing in a “major” economic speech.
Biden heaps praise on the National Guard at every campaign rally and Monday spoke glowingly of the domestic and international work the National Guard has done, and pledged to increase medical and economic support in light of increased service burdens in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Barack and I are here, we are going to set this straight,” he said.