May 10th, 2014
09:23 AM ET
9 years 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.

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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. Kimo

    The 1% has collected 95% of the gains in the economy since 2009. The playing field is not just not level but the 1% own the referees and can change the rules mid game. This is not a democracy.

    May 11, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Chuck

    Biden must feel like a total fool, not even being a second thought for President,
    why did they even pick him for VP in the first place?

    May 11, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. AS

    Only time Biden doesn't sound like any idiot, he either plaigarizes someone else's speech or homerwork or sticks to the script.

    May 11, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Adam

    I like Elizabeth Warren's focus on the middle class and its plight in recent years coinciding with record profits of the super-wealthy. But I don't like her lack of any foreign policy experience, so a run at the presidency would be unsuccessful in my mind. But if Joe Biden tapped her as his Vice President, count me in. He has the foreign policy experience that she lacks, and I'm not the kind of person who cares if Joe putts his foot in his mouth. He has the right priorities.

    May 11, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. The don

    It's official, the democrats have started a war on women!

    May 11, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. Brennerr

    So, I'm guessing he missed since this isn't
    bigger news. Was it a 12 or 20 gauge?
    Did he fire both barrels?

    May 11, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    "That the people making the money in this country are the corporations.”

    Wouldn't that equate with saying "Corporations are people"?

    I'm neither a Democrat or a Republican, I just find the hypocrisy of both sides laughable. And yes, when I see the opportunity I point out the stupidity of the Republicans as well.

    May 11, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  8. tmc

    Any job that pays less than $10 an hour is not a real job. The employee is subsidizing the employer and if by some small token, the customer for the product and/or service provided. Also, the minimum wage should be going up each and every year as the income exemption does–don't care if it's 20 cents or a dollar.. but it should be going up until the economy improves.

    May 11, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. 2_indy1600

    The democrats need to be focused on credibility, not american idol. Granted, Hillary has more character than Waco Bill, but if she wanted the office she should've divorced him. What do you want to bet she will if not elected? His pattern of "crimes of privilege" is too much to stomach for the country. We don't go back. She needs to move forward. After all, he didn't even graduate from Oxford and was asked to leave, according to FBI agent, because of a little GUESS WHAT impropriety. Read up, people. He's disgusting. Move on, HRC.

    May 11, 2014 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  10. sirock

    Come on Joe Killary was a great secretary of Snake!

    May 11, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. Yakobi

    "He talked about how the fruits of labor go to stockholders, rather than to the people who are producing it."
    I'm sure Karl Marx said something similar.

    May 11, 2014 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  12. Spgfld Tom

    Run Joe run!!! The Democratic base will get all wet and sweaty over a Biden/Sebelius ticket!!! Hillary is SO 80s!

    May 11, 2014 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. Jimmyz

    WWE is more legit than this political theater. ""The technique of infamy is to invent two lies, then get people arguing heatedly over which one of them is true." ___ Ezra Pound

    May 11, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  14. Jimmyz

    Don't believe the populist drivel from this guy. He's beholden to the same globalist central banking elite that pulled the Bush's and Obama's strings.

    May 11, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  15. Jeff from Columbus

    Is anyone seriously considering Biden for President? This is the guy who Obama seriously considered dropping as VP candidate in 2012 – and for good reason. Has anyone really listened to him talk? He's not stable mentally.

    The Obama campaign did a good job of hiding him in 2012 but he's a walking timebomb. He WILL implode eventually. Do the Democrats really want that to happen AFTER he gets their nomination?

    May 11, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  16. Earl McCan

    "takes shot at"? CNN you are not following Bart 0vomits rules. Uncle Joe tells the's really NOT Bush's fault.

    May 11, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  17. Scott

    Radar 8, you couldn't be further from the truth. While some top execs certainly enjoy generous stock options as part of their compensation, they rarely own more than a small fraction of 1% of a corporation, unless they were a founder. Huge mutual funds, endowments, etc own the majority of stock. And their first obligation MUST be to the maximize shareholder value (they are the owners of the company, after all) – that's the first rule! If they aren't, then their business are at risk of being beat by competitors who do. It's survival of the fittest, and those that maximize profit and operate efficiency are stronger competitors. I have no problem saying that often it's just plain good business to have happy employees, but it's only the top priority if that helps maximize efficiency and profitability by reducing turnover, increasing productivity, etc

    May 11, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  18. PF

    In response to "Concerned Netizen". I don't think making employees stockholders would change much. One thing it would do, however, is open many employees up to Federal Securities Laws prohibiting insider trading. If someone trades a stock with information that the public does not have, they can be liable for insider trading. It'd be awful hard to resist selling shares if you knew from working somewhere that the place was going down. On that point, making employees stockholders also opens them up to risks. Shareholders provide money to companies in hopes of getting a higher return. They run the risk of losing it all, but they also don't have to work for the gains. Maybe some sort of increased regulation of officer/director compensation would be better.

    May 11, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  19. Bry

    Name one good thing that Obama has done.

    May 11, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. Bry

    Hillary has had no major accomplishments.

    May 11, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  21. PF

    Radar 8,

    As to your comment, Directors and Officers owe duties to the corporation and its shareholders. They can be personally liable if they act in a manner that is clearly against the best interests of or unfair to shareholders. In addition, Directors and Officers can be held liable under many different laws if they act in their own best interests to the detriment of the larger company. It is for this reason, that is increased liability, that many directors and officers are compensated so much. Officers also have a pretty extensive job. Directors, on other hand, just make key decisions about the company. Maybe a good solution would be to offer tax incentives to corporations that either higher/retain a certain number of employees per year or that pay their non-officer employees at a reasonable level. Also, to deal with the issue of executive compensation, offer tax incentives to corporations that keep executive compensation (regardless of its form) at a certain level. Corporations are already taxed twice (once when the corporation receives the money, and again when its paid to employees/shareholders), so thats something to also keep in mind.

    May 11, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  22. Martin

    I agree with Biden. Bill Clinton doomed the middle class. Clinton oversaw the biggest deregulation of the financial sector, which not only caused the 2007 crash but is the main reason why the middle class is disappearing.

    In terms of economic policy, Clinton was as conservative as you get. Appointing Alan Greenspan, Summers, Rubin? (last two are advisors to Hillary, alarms anyone?)

    May 11, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
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