May 10th, 2014
09:23 AM ET
5 months ago

Biden delivers 'Elizabeth Warren-type speech' at fundraiser

Washington (CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a closed-door fundraiser in South Carolina Friday and delivered what one attendee called “an Elizabeth Warren-type speech” about the struggles of America’s middle class, remarks that were well-received by a room full of influential primary state Democrats.

Biden was in the state capital of Columbia on Friday to give the commencement address at the University of South Carolina. But never one to pass up an opportunity to network with political leaders in a key presidential primary state, the vice president also reached out to the state Democratic Party ahead of his visit to help them raise money.

He spoke for more than 30 minutes at the fundraiser, stepping away from the podium and delivering remarks while standing among the “mostly VIP crowd" of prominent local attorneys, Democratic activists and a range of current and former elected officials. The event was held at the Capital City Club in downtown Columbia.

Biden touted the Obama administration’s record on the economy, multiple Democrats in the room told CNN, but he also painted a picture of a middle class still struggling while the nation’s top earners continue to line their pockets.

“He said we have some of the most productive workers in the world, but corporations are more concerned about their stockholders than they are about their employees,” said one prominent Democrat who attended the fundraiser but did not want to be identified discussing a private event. “He talked about how the fruits of labor go to stockholders, rather than to the people who are producing it. That the people making the money in this country are the corporations.”

Another Democrat in the room said the vice president “talked about how the system was rigged against the middle class. He said the economic realities of the middle class are diminishing, and that the average middle-class family is finding it hard to make it economically.”

Biden did not mention his own White House ambitions. But several Democrats at the event were struck by one remark he made about Bill Clinton’s presidency: Three sources there told CNN that Biden said the fraying of middle-class economic security did not begin during President George W. Bush’s terms, but earlier, in the “later years of the Clinton administration.” Biden, of course, could face off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016 if they both decide to run.

Biden’s speech was described, to a person, as “populist.”

“He gave a stem-winding, almost revival-type speech today,” one Democrat said of the vice president. “I have never seen him this good. He was on fire. Sometimes when Joe gives a speech that goes on for 30 minutes, people are kind of drifting off or looking at their watches. But he was more enthused, more passionate. He was a preacher delivering a sermon.”

Biden also stressed the importance of helping Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic nominee for governor, against Gov. Nikki Haley, who is up for re-election this year. He took several swipes at Haley, criticizing her on infrastructure and for declining to accept Medicaid funds available under the Affordable Care Act.

Sheheen, a state senator, and Biden rode together in the vice presidential motorcade on the way into town from the airport. Sheheen, though, did not attend the fundraiser; he had to travel to Charleston for a campaign event with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another Democrat considering a presidential bid in 2016.

At the event, Biden got face time with a variety of prominent Democratic power brokers in the state, including several members of the South Carolina legislative black caucus such as state Sen. Gerald Malloy, state House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford and state Rep. Mia McLeod. Also in attendance were South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, former chairman Dick Harpootlian, attorney Joe McCulloch, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and longtime Biden confidante Trip King.

A representative for Biden did not respond to a CNN request for comment about the fundraiser.


Filed under: 2016 • Elizabeth Warren • Joe Biden
soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. guy250677

    That is a REACH for a headline. He mentions the beginning of an economic trend having taken place during the last years of the Presidency of Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill, and the headline is that the remark is a barb toward Hillary Clinton.

    May 10, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Doug in Tennessee

    @don in albuquerque, are you really voting for this idiot if he runs? I'm guessing you voted for our current one twice as well.

    May 10, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. BO

    PLEASE democrats run Airhead Biden for president, PLEASE.

    May 10, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. Old favorite

    And who are the stockholders..... Yes many CEO types but a nation full of 401k retirement funds.... So which way do you want it? The Gov has made saving money very difficult with zero interest fees... A real mess to solve and putting the haves against the have nots ain't gonna fix it...

    May 10, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. phantom235

    Complete loon.
    The thieves are BO, Joe, and Bubba/Hilldebeast.

    May 10, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. sbrrez

    biden better update his dinosaur position on cannabis legalization if he expects to get much of a younger vote.

    May 10, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. A.J.

    He might just be the best candidate for Democrats if Hillary cannot overcome the Benghazi attacks.

    May 10, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Soviet socialist

    Repeal NAFTA, GATT, and deport all immigrants. Suddenly we are doing a lot better!!

    May 10, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    Why vote for a Warren "wannabe" when you can get the real thing? If Hillary doesn't make a run, Elizabeth Warren would be a good choice.

    May 10, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. ZQ

    People here don't know Joe. He's always been Left of center. He had the least amount of wealth of anyone in congress until he became VP. People like to make fun of his colloquialisms but the country would be in good hands with Joe Biden.

    May 10, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. LogicBomb

    So basically he was saying the system is rigged to benefit the people in that room. I always love hearing all the wealthy politicians lamenting the woes of the middle-class. And yet we all buy into it, as if they really mean what they say.

    May 10, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Deb Ed

    Closed door fundraiser? Means that those that were there had money coming out their ears. I seriously doubt those rich people give a hoot about the middle class.

    May 10, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. YoonYoungJo

    Biden has a good point. The actual producers are not reaping any of te extra rewards when they produce above and over 100%. It is the shareholders and the super wealthy who are collecting the excess. One solution might be for the Government to offer tax incentives to provide employees company shares as a bonus. That would be the only true way to allow employees to reap the benefits of a companies accelerated growth. By providing an employee $1000 dollars worth of company stock, the company can remove $750 of its tax liability. I'm no expert on taxes but a formula such as that would allow employees to enjoy company growth, provide companies a method to lower some of its tax liability and in turn may produce more loyal and productive employees who would eventually feel they too have a stake in the company.

    May 10, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. michael808

    Joe Biden is not a bad guy, but he simply refuses to acknowledge that his is not Presidential, and that he cannot be nominated. His best hope is for an Obama heart attack, or something similar, but as far as being elected President, he has no chance.

    May 10, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. Spgfld Tom

    Biden/Sebelius '16!!!

    May 10, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. JCal

    Yes, Biden gets up there and bashes the roughly 500 families that earn enough money to set them apart from the rest (sorry folks, but 1% doesn't come close to cutting it in terms of income!). If the people giving these speeches like Biden and Warren don't stop it and focus on REAL issues, then those 500 families are going to shut down their businesses and give up on this country. This is and will be the reason why we have had the most stagnant economy in decades over the last 6 years. All these "candidates" want to do is take money away from the uber-wealthy and corporations and give it to the (non-working) citizens. We then will have nothing left to employ the middle class, etc. What fools!

    May 10, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. Red

    Hey Joe... where you goin' with that mike in your hand?

    May 10, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. O'drama Ya Mama

    Anyone else here realize that Biden was talking about the Republican controlled Congress of the Clinton Administration that created the policies that started this?

    May 10, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Elizabeth warrant is sick of the GOP clowns along with bidin and so I are the majority of voters, and the GOP THZiKS they are going to take the senate???? Not a chance of that happening but they might lose the house!!! Why would any SANE person vote for them?????

    May 10, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Grampa

    Biden is a good and decent fellow, but he has no chance of beating out Hillary for the nomination. Absolutely none. I hope he knows that and moves easily into the role of elder statesman after his stint as VP has ended. He could play a prominent and productive role in helping get democrats elected all across the country in 2014 and 2016. Fighting Hillary for the nomination would be a foolish and destructive waste of time.

    May 10, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. Bobby Bee

    Joe running is the answered prayed of the GOP,

    May 10, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Most of these comments are incredibly ignorant. Whoever is writing this stuff has no knowledge of past or current history.

    May 10, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. M

    Only joe old e so stupid. Would never vote for this fool.

    May 10, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. billmosby

    The middle class is struggling because its income has stagnated over the last 30 years while its expenses have not.

    May 10, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. furianxo

    Please... please let this man win the Democratic nomination.

    May 10, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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