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. SciGuy

    Joe is a fraud, just like 99% of the repubs and dems in office. They swear to uphold he Constitution, and then spend everyday in office trampling it.

    May 11, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. G_Edwards

    I wonder if he's told his family they can start traveling on planes again.


    May 11, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. dave

    Biden could win, if he came up with some absolute plans on the major problems the U.S. faces, like jobs, trade, guns, division of wealth, etc., etc. These detailed plans would be like a mandate, or edict, if you voted for these detailed plans you would get them enacted, guaranteed to be top priority, and ready to submit to Congress. Congress would have to go against the mandate, edict,of th people in order not to act on them. So much of our campaigns are like the dating game, like we are going to sleep with who ever wins. The fact is, 99 9/10ths of the voters will never be in the same room with the guy who wins. I have never even seen a President, maybe on tv. We have alot of problems, we have alot of electons, but elections turn out to be about nothing. The media and the campaign gurus turn them into the dating game.

    May 11, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Home simpson

    party in fighting. These animals would eat their own to get the american sheep to vote for them.

    May 11, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. jerry

    we don't need binden, clinton, or bush in the white house. And we don't need to make the mistake (again) of electing someone based on race or gender as well. These are the politicians who are 'part of the problem'.

    May 11, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Larry Zini

    Joe Biden did not mention that he a charter member of the 1% and I don't see him giving any of his fortune away. The same for all the pseudo liberals like the Kennedys, George Clooney and all these liberal Hollywood types. It would really ease the tax burden on the middle class if all Multi millionaire were in the 80% tax bracket. Also all the ballplayers that earn hundred of millions of dollars in all the pro sports.

    May 11, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Basta ya!

    Who would want to be President? You get to be hated by half of the public, become The Guy to kill by every Muppet on earth, get betrayed everyone you knew or thought you knew, live in a fishbowl, be told you can never drive a car again, and have the slander machine discuss if you wipe your behind with more than one square of toilet paper, And! Be blamed for global warming every time you fart. Seriously, worst job in the world for the most ungrateful jerks on earth.

    May 11, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. iceload

    The only candidate of either party for any office is the one who has a plan to save the middle class. It's going to be a tough sell but as the middle class goes so goes the country.

    May 11, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Norcalmojo

    It's true. Economically, Clinton was a free trade republican. Mergers, outsourcing, and the rise of Walmart.

    They never raised the interest rates in the boom, so it created a bubble and when it popped, the rates were already bottomed out and there was nowhere to go.

    May 11, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. TxGran

    Unlike the corporations think, I don't think it would bother those of us who are invested in their companies if middle class workers are paid better. After all, it is their hard work that helps make stockholders do well. So, pay the workers so they can buy stock in companies and everyone wins.

    May 11, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. digitalclips

    Joe has been a good VP and he should be happy to let that be his legacy. He has zero chance of becoming POTUS.

    May 11, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. digitalclips

    Joe has been a good VP and should let that be his legacy. He has zero chance of becoming POTUS.

    May 11, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Name. willard

    Keep out of demorcratic 2016
    Demsocratic are keep lied story what happened about benghizina
    Repibuic are right more invesgiator at benghizina

    May 11, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. VegasSmitty

    He should have taken shooting lessons from Dick Cheney. Maybe he would have hit her.

    May 11, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Howard

    Game on!

    May 11, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. mike g

    "the system is rigged against the middle class"... I'm pretty sure he has been the #2 guy for the last 5 + years, that would be the #2 guy of "THE SYSTEM" why hasn't he fixed that rigged system yet?

    May 11, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Concerned Netizen

    Make the employees stock holders and you might end up with better companies.

    May 11, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. manhandler1

    THAT was a shot at Clinton? Ahh the media and the mythological world they live in.

    May 11, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. Jocho Johnson

    He was on fire!!!!! ROFL!!!! And keep in mind this bloviating idiot was speaking in front of a crowd of millionaires and billionaires at a ultra-exclusive country club. You're not fooling anyone Joe!

    May 11, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Sierra

    Well, let's be really honest. The fraying of the middle class began under Nixon and picked up a good head of steam in the St. Ronnie era and the handcart to Hades has only gone faster since then.

    May 11, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. Shannon Miller

    Democrats should stand behind Joe as their candidate. He is perfect.

    May 11, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. radar8

    Concerned Netizen
    Make the employees stock holders and you might end up with better companies.

    You'd think, huh? It just doesn't work that way. EVen when the employees "own" the company, the average employee has very little of the worth. Only the top execs get most of the stock.

    btw.... When you hear companies say "our first obligation is to the stockholders", what they are really saying is "our first obligation is to the CEO, Board of Directors, and Top Execs" It is that group of people that own most of the stock in major corporations.

    There really is no concern or obligation to the vast majority of employees that make the company successful.

    May 11, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Big_D

    The GOP should be terrified of this guy. He will call them out in a second if he becomes President. He will probably have Warren as VP too. Obama will be remembered as a GOP friend.

    May 11, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  24. Bazinga

    "Prominent local attorneys"...just the thought makes me sick....Need to stop electing attorneys, maybe the country would be way better off than those egotistical, money and power hungry scum

    May 11, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Big_D

    I wonder how the GOP would do without the woman or black guy to run against. Old white experienced with a distinguished service record. And he still has good policies. Be very afraid GOP.

    May 11, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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