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. TJeff1776

    No matter the Bengazi affair, and ANY other, cooked up by the Publicans, the time for a woman Prez has arrived. The way it is. BUT if its got to be a woman- then she will be the best. AND when ya through in Bill with his experience- its all decided.

    May 10, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  2. sonnie3

    Biden would not make a very good POTUS.
    Stupid things keep popping out of the head.

    May 10, 2014 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  3. Marc Florida

    Joe is candid and has no baggage. I doubt he would consider a second spot. I also like Hillary. Those smoked filled rooms will be packed as we enter the political season to sort out the candidates. On the national stage the Democratic pick should get elected. It is for the Ds to lose. Local politics is a different story. Ds have a lot of work to do to strengthen local organizations.

    May 10, 2014 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  4. Ben

    I have some money saved up. What coorporations in particular care so much about their shareholders because I'd like to buy in. If I can't win as a worker I'd like to win as a shareholder until the tables swap again.

    May 10, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  5. Robin Jones

    Strange words, indeed, from the man who has spent his career building the environment that causes the middle class to struggle. Now he vilifies the corporations that have lined his pockets for all these years as if he just discovered they were naughty.

    May 10, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  6. LMAO

    Joe makes an acceptable number 2, but certainly not a number 1.

    May 10, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. Logictox

    Biden has the IQ of a cueball.

    May 10, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  8. liberal disease

    who would listen to this guy speak then give money,? you have to be a complete idiot!

    May 10, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  9. Bob

    Joe Biden is the gift that keeps on giving....a moron who has never worked a day in his life. I hope he wins nomination for the Dems...then even the libertarian candidate could be beat him in the general.

    May 10, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. Uncle Sam

    joe biden has no idea.

    May 10, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  11. sj

    This guy is such a moron. I can't believe he is where he is?

    May 10, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  12. No one cares


    May 10, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  13. Kenny

    Does any body else worry when politicians talk about the middle class behind closed doors?

    May 10, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  14. Garth

    Crazy Uncle Joe is off his meds again... sheesh...

    May 10, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  15. Stoner

    Thanks Barry for making America look bad.....

    May 10, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. Dallas

    I will vote for any democrat over any of the loons in the republican clown car. The thoughts of Rubio, Cruz, Ryan, Perry, Paul, Palin, etc ressiding at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue makes my blood run cold. Hillary 2016!

    May 10, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  17. john leonard

    I like see joe biden run presdent 2016

    May 10, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  18. are122

    Tweedlydee talking about Tweedlydum.

    May 10, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  19. drew

    Biden is a buffoon. He rails on about how the middle class is being mistreated... AND HE AND OBAMA ARE RUNNING THE COUNTRY! I mean, how much more bull can you throw out! Who has more power than Obama and Biden to help the middle class, yet they DO NOTHING!

    May 10, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  20. ColT

    We are so screwed. It doesn't matter who gets on office.

    May 11, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  21. Jim Bob B

    These political figures are propped up by there staff and believe they are the answer to all our problems. The same way Saddam Hussein thought what he was doing what was right.
    Jo Biden has no business trying to become the leader of this country. Someone with half a brain should tell him so, and donors should stop trying to buy favors from him and trying to get him elected.

    May 11, 2014 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  22. Pedro

    After 6-1/2 years in the government the story never changes middle class this middle class that while the number of the so called middle class keep on declining.

    May 11, 2014 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  23. Jim

    To old geesiers going at it. Hopefully they will be able to read their cue cards and not the other persons cue card. Have enough make-up on, and try to look like they are still 65 years old instead of their real age at the debates.

    May 11, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  24. What?

    Ria even though the Rich are paying way less in taxes than other Country's Rich, USELESS Congress blocks any attemps to fix this

    May 11, 2014 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  25. djanson

    Fowl mouth joe or hillary billary dock you progressives have to be proud. Joe has been a career politician living through his foul mouth for decades but he knows the middle class?

    The clock is ticking 17 trillion and counting but keep the presses rolling you abject morons of economic theory. Finally the fairy land utopia of progressives in play and hold on to your hats the next collapse will make the last look like a disney ride.

    May 11, 2014 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
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