Biden on Mass. election: Without Obama on ticket, minority turnout will be low
CNN — Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday night the minority turnout in Massachusetts' upcoming Senate election may be low because President Barack Obama is not at the top of the ticket.
According to pool reports, Biden also offered stinging criticism of the Republican Party at the fundraiser, especially of two first-term senators: Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
"There's a big difference in this race," Biden said at a Washington fundraiser for the Democratic candidate, Rep. Ed Markey. "Barack Obama's not at the head of the ticket. And that means those legions of African-Americans and Latinos are not automatically going to come out."
"No one has energized them like Barack Obama," he continued. "But he's not on the ticket. So don't take this one for granted."
Biden's comments came just before the president's scheduled trip to Boston Wednesday for a campaign event with Markey.
Markey, a longtime congressman who's been in the House for more than 35 years, is running against Republican newcomer Gabriel Gomez in a race to fill the seat vacated by John Kerry, who went on to become secretary of state earlier this year.
An interim senator appointed by the governor currently holds the seat and will remain until a winner is elected on June 25.
Markey was at a debate Tuesday night in Springfield, Massachusetts, and did not attend the Washington fundraiser, which brought in about $250,000, according to the campaign.
Biden cautioned that because 2013 is not an election year, Markey will need "every solitary bit of financial help" he can get to "carry this home."
"Please, don't be asking yourself two months from now, 'God, why didn't I do more?'" Biden said.
While Markey is ahead of Gomez in the reliably blue state, recent polls indicate the Republican is catching up with two weeks until Election Day.
Saying the country "does not need another Republican in the Senate," Biden argued the mainstream GOP has created a "gigantic chasm" and distanced itself more than ever from the mainstream Democratic Party.
"The last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky - or the old senator from Kentucky," he said.
"Think about this," he added. "Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole."
Biden raised the gun control debate as an example of his frustration with the party. Of the 17 senators he called, nine of them were Republicans, and none of them could explain why they couldn't vote for the background check bill, he said.
"They said, 'I don't want to take on Ted Cruz. I don't want to take on Rand Paul. They'll be in my district'," Biden said. (Senators do not represent districts, but states.)
"I actually said, 'Are you kidding? These are two freshmen,'" Biden added. "This is a different party, folks. They're not bad guys, and they're both very bright guys. And I'm not questioning their motive."
Paul, who was elected in 2010, and Cruz, who was elected in 2012, were part of a GOP filibuster to prevent debate over the background check bill. The Senate ultimately fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward with the legislation in April.
Biden also made remarks about former Vice President Al Gore, who served in the House with Markey and was also at the fundraiser.
"This man was elected president of the United States of America," Biden said, talking about Gore's presidential election defeat in 2000. "No, no, no. He was elected president of the United States of America. But for the good of the nation, when the bad decision in my view was made, he did the right thing for the nation."
For his part, Gore joked around with Biden, a former opponent.
"We ran against each other in 1988 for president," Gore said, talking about how long he's known Biden.
"And you didn't even notice!" Biden responded from the side, according to pool reports.
"Oh yeah? The hell I didn't, the hell I didn't," Gore responded. "That was quite an educational experience for all of us, and a great campaign."
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By Ashley Killough