CUDAHY, Wisconsin (CNN) – Joe Biden says that Friday night’s debate been Barack Obama and John McCain is a “big deal” because it will illustrate the candidates' fundamentally different national security philosophies, with Obama arguing that McCain isn’t willing to spend the money needed at the local level to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.
“I want to tell you, give you a little preview,” Biden told firefighters and their families at a fire station fish fry. “The fundamental difference between John and Barack and me and John is this: if you’re talking about security, it starts at home in addition to protecting our troops abroad and giving them everything they need.”
Biden argued that a terrorist attack will likely be detected and responded to at the local level, not by “some guy in special forces gear with night vision goggles.” He said McCain and “the conservative right” believe an attack is a local issue, not federal - but that McCain did not vote for several local funding recommendations from the 9/11 Commission.
“I’m sick and tired of this neo-conservative malarkey that somehow the federal government doesn’t have a responsibility to this local fire hall, to the local police department,” said Biden.
“I’m absolutely convinced John McCain feels as deeply as I do about protecting the homeland, but let’s get the facts straight,” said Biden. “He votes against funding it. He votes against giving you the money. The president of the United States will not give you the money because philosophically he doesn’t think it’s the responsibility of the federal government, it’s a local responsibility.”
The McCain campaign shot back, pointing to votes and statements indicating the Arizona senator’s support for both the 9/11 Commission and its conclusions as well as the funding of local first responders.
“You can count on Barack Obama’s running mate to bungle the truth if not flat out lie,” said McCain spokesman Ben Porritt. “John McCain helped create the 9/11 Commission and has fought to ensure law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders have the tools necessary to protect our nation.”