May 10th, 2014
09:23 AM ET
7 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. Evelyn Connaway

    I am fond of Joe Biden and wife. He is good in congress and needs to be back fighting for the people, he likes a good fight and we need him back in Congress. That's where we need Elizabeth Warren, as she has so many great ideas and how to fix so many things, that need fixing and in congress is the only place to do it. After they get some great bills on the floor and passed, though house and senate, the president can sign them. I will be, as many others will – voting for Hillary Clinton. No matter what the GOP throws, ii will not matter, as there is nothing we don't already know about her, from the day she started working for the Democratic Party, as a young woman and before she became a Clinton.

    May 10, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Neal

    how about neither party... tired of the partisan b$. Jesse Ventura 2016!!!

    May 10, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. Rick Robeson

    Does any American actually believe anything a professional politician says? Doesn't matter what side you're on: left, right, up, down, sideways, scattergram, etc. Would any of you be surprised by somebody you support doing the opposite of what they said after being elected?

    May 10, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. longtooth

    This is a public service announcement. All the pro-Biden voices you hear are those of republican operatives who will do or say anything to keep Hillary out of the White House.

    May 10, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. adamisviral

    Biden is the best candidate for 2016. People have amnesia in this country; Clinton wasn't that great, and he did a lot of bad for the middle class. Biden has been a career politician who has stood by his words, and has fought for the middle class for decades. Look it up, read up and see why you should vote for him.

    May 10, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  6. Kendall


    Joe Biden is without a doubt the BEST person to serve as president (of those considered so far) but because he is straight forward about helping the middle class as a priority, the money/power brokers will spend every penny they have to keep him out.
    Please...and you believe him? It's amazing that people are gullible enough to believe anything from anyone associated with this Administration...but then again, that is their base.

    May 10, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  7. adamisviral

    Biden has fought for middle class values for decades. Liberals and Democrats forget about how bad Clinton really was. He helped Republicans destroy safety nets, and protectorate legislation against corporate greed. Read up about Biden and see why he is the best Democratic candidate out there. Honestly, I would have voted for him over Obama but he didn't make it.

    May 10, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. kols

    I actually think Joe Biden would be a good president and maybe more so than Clinton. So what if he sticks his foot in his mouth now and then. That does not make him a bad potential president. I like Clinton too, but I think she might be too much of a hawk. We do enough inserting ourselves into other country's business.

    May 10, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  9. Jimbo

    I hope Joe won't take a dime from any corporations for his campaign if he does run.

    May 10, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. paul n michael.

    I think miss.Clinton would be a good vices president. With Mr. Biden. An or any other. Of that type an or nun...pnm...

    May 10, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. Simplefaith

    Joe Biden is a nice guy. Compare him to all the losers dreaming to be president on the Republican Party, I would vote Biden. The Republican Party has yet to present a decent candidate for President.

    May 10, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. Oh No

    No good candidates in site for any office from any of the parties. Let's all wake up!!!

    May 10, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. Robert N. constant

    Joe Biden is an honest and decent man. He has spent his time serving the public rather than accumulating money. Nearly everybody in Washington government is a millionaire. That has not been Joe Biden's focus on life. He is not as articulate as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, but neither is he underhanded deceitful and outright evil like the Cheneys, the Bushes and the Romney's He would not take us into unnecessary wars like Bush. He would not facilitate selling the American Industrial base to the Chinese and the rest of the third world like Romney, and he would not go along with the Republican deregulation of the financial institutions that precipitated the housing bubble like Clinton.
    The cerebrally disadvantaged who get their political focus from Republican radio will deprecate him. But those are the same old white men who believe there is no climate change, everything gives you cancer and Adam was contemporaneous with the dinosaurs.
    All in all. Joe Biden is a good and decent man and would make a good and decent President.

    May 10, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Namedouglas

    Clinton and biden both suck. We need a moderate independent.

    May 10, 2014 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. Jack

    Not particularly fond of Biden. But all will depend on whether or not the GOP picks another total loser as its candidate.

    May 10, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. Josephina

    We lost our old health insurance thanks to Obamacare and our new policy's premiums are 75% more expensive for the same coverage.

    The Obama administration is the worst enemy the middle class ever had.

    Thanks for nothing.

    May 10, 2014 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    A vote for the Democratic Party will be a vote for further destruction of America.

    May 10, 2014 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. hitman

    "What difference does it make?"

    May 10, 2014 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  19. scott

    He is good at explaining that the middle class is degrading. Didn't see his plan to improve the plight of the middle class.

    May 10, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. Steve

    Lets get a non elite into the whitehouse

    May 10, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  21. Norcalmojo

    Most of Biden's "gaffes" are just honesty.

    May 10, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  22. David

    Biden is behind Obamacare.
    Obamacare was designed to bankrupt the middle class .
    You cant have a communist country without Socialist medicine.
    Wake up my beloved America.

    May 10, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. Jim

    I'm no longer worried about Al Qaeda or some terrorist on the other side of the world. I'm worried about the terrorist I see when I look at the price at the gas pump, or the total of my grocery bill being more but getting less or the light bill when it comes in. Now there's the terrorist I fear, the ones running this country and turning a blind eye to the fleecing of Americans. I've given the Dems their chance and I won't vote Dem ever again. I was in better shape when Carter was in office and he was considered the worst Prez ever.

    May 10, 2014 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Bob

    What a bunch if rehtoric!

    And would those workers he's speaking of be employed without the investment capital to purchase the equipment they are working with?

    Our country is doomed because most Americans, including our Vice President, are incapable of seeing beyond the first degree. They are only interested in their own immediate gratification....

    May 10, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. reader10

    Without a doubt the best used car and snake oil salesman.

    May 10, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
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