October 1st, 2007
04:42 PM ET
15 years ago

Biden explains why Gore, Kerry lost

Biden said Al Gore and John Kerry failed to communicate their national security credentials.

ROCK HILL, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. Joe Biden, touting his experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a campaign stop here, said that former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry lost the 2000 and 2004 elections because they failed to convince voters they had the experience to protect Americans.

"Why did we lose?," Biden asked a crowd of about 50 people at the office of the York County Democratic Party. "We had good, decent, honorable men running [in 2000 and 2004]. But anybody who thinks we're going to elect a president who cannot lay down unimpeachable credentials on national security, who cannot demonstrate by his or her record or character that they have the strength and vision to protect America as well as ending this war, I think we're making a mistake again."

Biden said that most Americans agree with Democrats on domestic issues, but that President Bush did a better job in 2004 of winning over voters on national security issues.

"What he [Bush] was able to communicate wrongly, and what my candidate and your candidate [Kerry] was unable to communicate unjustly, was that he would keep America safe," Biden said.

He told the crowd he would trounce the Republican nominee in a national security debate.

"I can hardly wait to debate Rudy Giuliani," he said to cheers. "I can hardly wait to debate Mitt Romney or whomever they choose on matters relating to national security and homeland security."

Biden, still in single digits in national polls, also took a thinly veiled swipe at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, suggesting that he is the only Democrat who can appeal to voters in red states. He said a viable Democratic candidate must be able to win in states that went red in 2000 and 2004, particularly in the South.

"I truly believe, and I predict to you, electability is going to become a major, major, major factor at the end of the day when South Carolinians and Iowans and folks in New Hampshire go to those polls or caucuses to cast their vote."

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Al Gore • Joe Biden • John Kerry • South Carolina
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    Since 9-11 hadn't happened yet when Gore ran for office, I find Biden's lecture absurd. Someone with such mis-understanding of events that took place only 7 years ago is unfit for command. And what kind of foreign policy experience does he actually have? He was on some kind of committee? The foreign relations committee is just a bunch of Senators pontificating. They don't meet with leaders, they have no effect on foreign policy which belongs to the executive branch. His arguments are gimmicky and clumsy. If he went into a debate with Rudy who has actually met with foreign leaders on their home turf, Biden would be exposed as uninformed.

    October 2, 2007 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  2. Sue in Michigan

    Wait.Bush was handed the 2000 election by the Supreme Court after Jeb's mess in Florida. Kerry ran into a similar mess with the machines in Ohio, but chose not to put the country through another debacle. In neither case did the Dems LOSE the election. Biden is grasping at straws and evidently thinking no one remembers how Bush REALLY got into the White House.

    October 2, 2007 08:29 am at 8:29 am |


    October 2, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  4. Chris, Middletown, CT

    The liberals really believe what they are saying about Gore and Kerry – they don't need any stinking evidence to support this position....the DNC said its so...and this is "Bushs War" – (even though Hillary voted for it....and the Democrats are still providing financing to it) – baffling group....Rudy 08!

    October 2, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Bush did actually win the 2004 election, but Gore won the 2000 election. I believe, and so do most independent investigators, that Gore won Florida. What Bush won was the five Republicans on the Supreme Court.

    Biden should know his history better than that.

    Candidates Votes Vote ElecVotes
    Gore 50,996,116 266
    Bush 50,456,169 271


    October 2, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. Gentry, Tuscaloosa AL

    Joe Biden couldn't be more wrong. The reason Kerry and Gore, not to mention Dukakis, Mondale, Humphrey and McGovern, lost has nothing to do with their national security credentials. The last time I checked, Al Gore and John Kerry both served in Vietnam and had significant foreign policy experience and lost to a draft dodger.

    Democrats lose elections because they nominate aloof, out of touch liberals that have no ability to connect with blue collar, working class voters. Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Johnson all had this broad appeal. They were moderate populists who, for the most part, stood up to ultra-liberal interest groups while supporting the causes of poor and working class families.

    While President Bush has capitalized on the fear generated from the September 11th attacks, and has been able to score political points with this tactic, the fact of the matter is that voters only respond to those issues that they feel affect them directly. As 9/11 becomes an ever more distant memory, so too will the ability to scare voters with the "soft on national security" line. Barring another terrorist attack, voters in 2008 will be in tune with those issues that affect them most directly – tax policy, the cost of health care and prescription drugs, illegal immigration, and, in an increasing amount, the environment.

    If the Democratic Party nominates Hillary Clinton, they will learn this hard lesson again. She has no ability to connect to middle class voters. She is aloof, she is a child of privilege, and she does not connect with their stories or their needs. I implore my Democratic friends to nominate Bill Richardson or Barack Obama. They are the only Democrats in the race that have the ability to make this connection with working class voters, and they are the only Democrats that can win a national election.

    October 2, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  7. Brent, VA

    Biden is right on the money. If Hilary wins the nomination, the general election will be a crap shoot just like 2000 and 2004. She may end up barely winning or barely losing. It will be 51-49, or 49-48, or something like that. If Biden wins the nomination, he will carry the Independents and win the general election by 5 to 7 points. 54-47, something like that. The reality is that Biden is by far the best candidate. BY FAR! it is not even close. The Democrats need to wake up. Don't try and get 51%, try and win going away. Joe Biden can do this!

    October 10, 2007 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  8. Stephanie

    Senator Biden,
    your absolutely right. i just wish american peoples open there eyes . see whose the best President to run this country. i vote you hundred times if i could having said that because your most honest. deeply cares our country as well the peoples around the worlds. i can sense and feel that if i only convice the american peoples to vote you for president i will. the way i can look at you and listenning to talk the peoples in campagin. your sound deeply sincer and honest senator . I'm very sorry that you quit in campaign for President, i will always respect you as senator as well man of word . GOOD LUCK SENATOR BIDEN AND I WISH YOU THE BEST IN LIFE I HOPE YOUR WIFE SHE FEELING BETTER AFTER THE ACCIDENT , AND WARM REGARDS TO ALL YORU FAMILIES SENATOR. SALUTE TO YOU SIR . !!!!!!!! RESPECFULLY YOURS!!!!! STEPAHNIE OF AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND WE LOVE ALL THE DEMOCRATICS ESPECIALLY YOU SENATOR AND FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON AND SENATOR HILARY CLINTON . FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON WIFE. SENATOR OF NEW YORK SHE IS WONDERFUL PRESIDENT AS WELL IN THSI COUNTRY. WE ALL PRAY WE HOPE SENATOR HIALRY CLINTON WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATE. SHE OUR SECOND CHOICE OUR FIRST CHOICE AT THAT TIME IS YOU SENATOR BIDEN!!!!! LETS HOPE SHE WIN THIS ELECTION !!!

    January 25, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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