May 10th, 2014
09:23 AM ET
6 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.

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. Fleeta McCorman

    Good reporting. The nation's top earners ( rather the nation's top takers) are Biden and his political class of DC lawyers!

    May 10, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Steve851

    He must be really serious about running. Reminds me of Romney switching gears to appeal to the far right, but in reverse. And a Warren approach is decidedly anti-middle class.

    May 10, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. rla

    Gee those top earners are doing MUCH MUCH better under the dimocrats and progressives than ever under the republicans and the middle class is being devastated under the same bunch??? IS ANYONE OUT THERE GETTING THAT THE DIMS DON"T CARE unless it means trolling for votes?

    May 10, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. Hector Slagg

    Huh?,
    The middle class is struggling? Now why is that? Could it be that Poilcies put in place by Liberal Democrats is stifling the Economy? Like Obama Care, giving everybody a mortgage weather they could afford it or not? Blaming it on Wall Street?

    May 10, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Thomas

    Clinton and Bush both destroyed our economy , And the middle class.

    Established in 1933 and repealed in 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act

    May 10, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. don in albuquerque

    Go Joe!

    May 10, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Chris-E...al

    Maybe oh joe was'nt packing that double barrel shotgun at the time ? But we know he was shooting the bulll .

    May 10, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. 2_indy1600

    At least no one throws shoes at Joe.

    May 10, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. plain & simple

    The middle-class depends on good wages paid by good jobs.....like rebuilding the infrastructure! How can we make that happen? Joe knows. Haven't seen or heard anything constructive from that other party. What are they called now? The party that has no vision? Are they the tea party or republicans? How about the party of everyone for themselves?

    May 10, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Norma Vessels

    Steve 851 ... Vice President Joe Biden does NOT switch gears, unless he's driving a car! You're group of Republican politions are always doing that .. don't get confused.

    And, ria ... the middle class always do better under a Democratic leadership .. you should know that. All the Republicans in Congress want to do is say no to everything the middle class and the poor need. Everyone knows that, except you, apparently.

    May 10, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Norma Vessels

    And to everyone that has doubt .. the Affordable Care Act is doing great, despite all the Republican Governors that refuse to help their people by using Medicaid.

    May 10, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Keksi

    Did he talk about New World Order again?

    May 10, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    I want to see Elizabeth Warren run for president. She would be my top choice, then Joe, then Hillary a distant third.

    May 10, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Steve

    Well Democrats, this moderate could support Biden, even with his continuous flubs in public. Any Democrat but Hillary. If Democrats, nominate Hillary, I will not vote for her ever. She is the most contemptible and evil woman in the world and anyone who worked in the White House in the 1990's would tell you stories about how mean she is. There is a time for a woman to be President, but a gracious woman who is smart, not a blamer and excuse maker of ill repute like Hillary. Go Joe!

    May 10, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Paul R.

    Of course, Joe failed to mention that the American middle class owns over 60% of publicly-traded stock via 401ks, IRAs, other deferred compensation plans and private holdings. Which would make the middle class majority stockholders. (Reputable, documented statistics are easily found via search.) But let's not let facts get in the way of a "well-received" speech by the mouthpiece of the redistributor-in-chief.

    May 10, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. Sohumm

    Good boy, Joe!

    May 10, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Timothy Bauer

    Biden is kind of funny.
    Can't stop saying crazy comments.
    The list could go on.
    One of my favorites

    Joe Biden gets his historical facts mixed up by claiming that Franklin D. Roosevelt got on television in 1929 to talk about the stock market crash, despite the fact that he wasn't president yet and only experimental TV's were in use at the time.

    May 10, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Name

    The fruit of your labor is your pay check...not the company's profit.

    May 10, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. srcactus

    Income inequality will end when good paying jobs return in large numbers. The real and sustainable solution for all Americans and for the government is more rewarding employment with more "take home pay" and higher tax collections. .

    May 10, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. jorge washinsen

    What he is saying," if you are not in the top class now,you can not get in it." Who is standing in the way? What is different now than a hundred years ago. Is the drive not there? What has changed? Nothing, except the attitude of the seeker of higher earning power.

    May 10, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. drjohn

    he's right. not everyone in the middle class can afford plugs and tombstone teeth.

    May 10, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. tsl

    " picture of a middle class still struggling while the nation’s top earners continue to line their pockets."

    and all the while rubbing shoulders for money from these "top earners" .

    May 10, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. newshound

    A few nights ago I was listening to a radio talk show (non-political) that featured a round table discussion of the U.S. economy. One of the analysts (an independent) said that the biggest single blow to the middle class has been, and will continue to be, the high premiums and deductibles of Obamacare. Obviously she was talking about those who will not be subsidized. How anyone could vote for Biden is beyond me.

    May 10, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Unmitigated Audacity

    @ Thomas – Bingo! W/O reestablishing Glass Steagall, nothing will change. Unfortunately, most Dems and Reps are too stupid or too paid off by Wall Street to do it.

    May 10, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. beemoe

    "He was a preacher delivering a sermon. "

    Exactly.

    May 10, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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