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. Alabama Joe

    Joe Biden is just another opportunistic politician who wants to be president. Politicians usually do not criticize a member of their party, unless they are laying ground for a run for an office that relates to a rival...i.e. H. Clinton and her husband. So, now, the game is on...all is fair (and nasty) in love, war and politics. Politics is such a nasty is a wonder that anyone wants to participate...except that they all become rich, after they are elected, and after they leave office. Such cynicism is despicable. ALL candidates CARE about the middle class AND the poor AND the wealthy 1%. The politicians and the news media are equal and cynical culprits in pitting each class against the others.

    May 10, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. James

    A.L.E.C. is an evil empire that must be disbanded.

    May 10, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. jcvet33

    Since when did a democrat ever care about the middle class? "They are rich"

    May 10, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. fletcher

    LOL! Like there is still a Democratic Party in South Carolina. LOL

    May 10, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  5. john

    Biden is such a hypocrite. He says that Obama has done good for the economy, yet it still socks for the middle class. It socks because, in part, they have screwed up with the ACA, was red money on solar and wind instead of more natural gas, and continued stupid tax policies....

    May 10, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Ice Cowboy

    Re: "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'."

    Pandering emotionally is not (in any way, shape or form) my def of "good".....

    May 10, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. Sean

    Maybe "Crazy Uncle Joe" should take some basic business and finance classes. Of course a corporations main focus is their stockholders. The stockholders are financing the whole business. Why not look at the fact that the U.S. has a 40% corporate tax rate(the highest in the world). The reality is that these companies would love to bring jobs back to the U.S. but our tax system won't allow them to bring trillions back into the economy.

    May 10, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. mickinmd

    You have to ask yourself: who will get the Congress to go along with him/her? I like Hillary but Biden might have better luck with Congress. As far as getting our rigged economic system to stop destroying the Middle Class, I think our American people are too far away from being responsible citizens to have a clue what's going on and big money will continue to control and blackmail Congress.

    May 10, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  9. Kelly

    I love it, bash this country while you are the one running it........ Kettle! You're black!! Trying to tout the admin economic 'wonders' while admitting that most Americans are struggling (well those that are working that is)

    May 10, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. anon

    – Under Obama there are now more food stamp recipients than the number of women working full-time in America.

    – Under Obama the average full-time male employee now earns less (adjusted for inflation) than 40 years ago.

    – Under Obama there are now 70% more Americans collecting entitlement checks than working in the private sector (148 million “takers” vs. 86 million “makers”). This isn’t a conservative opinion. It’s a fact provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

    – Under Obama the number of working-age Americans not in the labor force is at all-time highs.

    – Under Obama the workplace participation rate of men is the lowest in history.

    – Under Obama the workforce participation rate of women is the lowest on record.

    – Under Obama the workforce participation rate for black Americans is at the lowest level ever recorded.

    – Over 800,000 people dropped out of the workforce last month. That's almost one million Americans who have given up…in a month.

    May 10, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. J Bradford

    I'm voting for Biden.

    May 10, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    Joe wouldn't stand a chance, but Hillary would.

    May 10, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. Name

    It begins.

    May 10, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  14. Joe

    Every middle class job in roofing and construction in Denver is held by a mexican, most illegal. Thanks dems you are the ones pushing to keep them here and bring more here. I guess the tens of millions out of work are not enough to satisfy them. Biden the traitor doofus.

    May 10, 2014 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. Graeme from Ottawa

    Biden is to honest, media and Americans have a false narrative about the man he can not overcome, sad

    May 10, 2014 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  16. FritzieBoy

    I just don't think he's Presidential material (he's trying to pilfer Sen. Warren's angle on things...the middle class problems). He's more like a second banana...or maybe a prune. We'd probably end up in World War III with him in charge of things. I think I'l pass on him and go for someone real and with original ideas like Elizabeth Warren

    May 10, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  17. Vumba


    May 10, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. Sally

    So a demented old man criticizes a woman who defends a rapist. Can't we get anybody better?

    May 10, 2014 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Not gonna happen.

    May 10, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. ed maiefski

    biden is as dumb as a box of rocks

    May 10, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. Gary

    Hillary Biden for President? Anythink for a laugh!

    May 10, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. Gary

    Hillary Biden for President? Anything for a laugh!

    May 10, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  23. gahh

    Biden or Clinton as opposed to another Bush, with Rick Perry or Chris Christie as VP? Jeb is just like his brother, he's a total sellout to Big Business and their Lobbyist money. We can't afford another Bush.

    May 10, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. stungun

    To Be specific, Bill Clinton & Gore endorsed NAFTA. That means Detroit gets to move to cheap Mexican labor, and USA workers have to "compete" with folks so poor they will do anything for any low amount, in appreciation.
    But Biden is a goof, Hillary is a hawk, and the Republicans are a disaster for the middle class without the sheep's clothing. Lord have mercy on us all

    May 10, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. FT

    I wanted Biden in 2008 but he dropped out of primaries before I had a chance to vote for him. Then I voted for Clinton and she lost to Obama. Now it will 2016 and I don't want any of them. Time for younger faces on both sides.

    May 10, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
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