VP drops Republican strategist’s name a bunch of times at Monday fundraiser in Scranton.
Scranton Times-Tribune local pool report on Vice President Joseph R.
Biden visit to Scranton, Oct. 11, 2010,
1. The fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Chris Carney took place at the Hilton
Scranton & Conference Center in the Casey Ballroom. (No relation to
Sen. Bob Casey).
The vice president met and posed for pictures with larger donors in
the Blakely Room. (Blakely is the name of a borough not far from
Sen. Bob Casey introduced U.S. Rep. Chris Carney, D-10, Dimock
Township, Susquehanna County, Pa. Carney represents Pennsylania’s 10th
Congressional District, a 14-county, mostly rural district that
includes part of Lackawanna County (where Scranton is) but not
Sen. Casey noted the region’s unemployment rate, the highest of any
metro area in the state.
He called Carney an “independent voice” for the district in Washington.
Rep. Carney said his vote for health care reform had brought threats
to him and his children.
“That is not the America I know any more and we’ve got to get America
back,” he said. “We have to run it from center.”
He praised the health-care reform bill.
“We had this health care bill this year and passed it, thank God,” he
said. “We cannot run this country from the extremes. It’s simply not
possible. We have to run it from the center, like I said.”
Sometimes, he said, Washington leaders are unhappy with his votes.
“But that’s okay,” he said, “I represent the 10th district in
Washington. I do not represent Washington to the 10th district.'”
Rep. Carney introduced the vice president as someone “who is our
friend, our neighbor and who reflects what we are about here in
northeastern and central Pennsylvania.”
Vice President Biden said he was happy to be home and thanked the
audience of about 150 politicians and donors for helping elect him and
Obama. He said on election night 2008 he paid particular attention to
the results in NEPA.
“I wanted to know … how did the ticket do in northeast
Pennsylvania,” he said. “Because of you, we did great.”
Obama carried Lackawanna County by the second largest margin in the
state. Only Philadelphia was higher.
Biden paraphrased Mark Twain (he referred to him as Samuel Clemens) saying,
“The reports of the death of the Democratic Party have been greatly
“We will be in the majority in the United States Senate and the
majority in the House of Representatives and Chris Carney is going to
back to represent you,” he said to applause.
Biden said he knows lots of people are angry and “their anger is
justified.” They should be angry at the interest groups who don’t look
out for the people of the 10th. Said he has traveled to over 110
“I’m angry because I see the devastation left behind and ordinary,
hard-working families who played by the rules, did everything right
and their lives were literally decimated as a consequences of the
Savings and 401ks evaporated, housing values plummetted because
subprime mortgages elsewhere on their block ruined property values, he
“People were wondering how in God’s name they were going to make it,”
he said. “My dad used to have an expression. He said, “Joey, a job’s
about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity, it’s about
respect, it’s about your ability to care for your family. Nobody knows
that better than the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the
Lackawanna Valley. Nobody knows it better because every time there’s a
recession, we’re the first ones in and last ones out. We’ve been
banged around a lot.”
Biden said he and Obama knew their term would be difficult, despite
the promise and inspiration on the night of their victory.
“We knew what you’re beginning to see, we’d have to face the most
powerful interest groups in America who didn’t want the change we were
talking about,” he said.
The administration wanted “real change.”
He lashed out at groups that don’t disclose their contributors and
don’t care about “the lives of middle-class Americans.”
In the last six months of Bush, the nation lost 3 million jobs and 3.5
million in the six months after the inauguration, he said. The
stimulus saved or created 3 to 3.5 million jobs. “No one argues about
it any more, they can’t deny it, 130,000 of them here in
The nation has created 860,000 private sector in the last nine months, he said..
“That’s real change,” he said, a refrain he used several times.
He said wages had shrunk 10 percent under Bush and GOP, economy
shrinking at 7 percent when GOP left office, costing nation $3
trillion in national income.
“And now we’ve had four straight quarters of economic growth. Not
enough, but real growth every quarter. That’s real change,” he said.
Financial markets were collapsing, he said. Blamed Bush administration
for “turning the keys to the economy over to Wall Street with
virtually no regulation.”
“After we stepped in the financial markets are stabilized and in the
process the banks are paying us back every single penny they owe us
with $25 billion in interest so far.”
Auto industry was vanishing under Bush, losing 430,000 jobs, now
gained 63,700 “middle-class jobs,” and paying back money borrowed.
“That’s progress, that’s change,” he said.
He said Wall Street was “running wild” under the Bush administration’s
“cowboy mentality,” gambling with people’s savings, pensions and
homes. Now banks are investing the way they should.
“That’s real change,” he said.
“Everything about our health care system was broken except the profits
of the insurance companies,” he said. “They were doing just fine. They
thought everything was okay.”
He said sick people were getting denied coverage because of “typos in
their enrollment form” and children with pre-existing conditions were
being denied coverage.
“We’ve ended those abuses,” he said.
He said foreign policy was in disarray, now troops are headed home
from Iraq and will all be out by the end of 2011.
He said Bush 41 had left the nation with a $168 billion deficit, which
President Clinton eliminated, only to have Bush 43 leave the nation
with a $1.3 trillion deficit.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve seen this movie before,” he said. “And
now we’re on our way back to reclaiming America’s greatness. The
change is real but much more has to be done.”
He lashed out at Republicans for opposing small-business tax breaks
and said the Obama adminstration was “doubling down on our green
energy investments, wind, solar, advanced battery technologies” and
doubling renewable energy by 2012, which would allow all the homes
from Maine to Pennsylvania to have green energy.
“They want to keep the tax breaks for sending jobs overseas,” he said.
“If you didn’t know anything, you’d think I was making this up. But
that’s literally true. No tax on income going overseas, why wouldn’t
you go overseas? Why make it here?”
He touted the administration’s decision to stop paying banks $60
billion to administer loans and loan that directly to families.
“Look at who’s trying to lead us again,” he said.
He lashed out at Republican strategist Karl Rove and the millions of
dollars in unidentified contributors who are pouring money into
congressional campaigns nationwide.
“Karl Rove has his stable of billionaires, literally, and millionaires
pouring tens of millions of dollars into close races,” he said. “The
Chamber of Commerce. Does it surprise you that insurance companies are
against us after we prevented them from taking advantage of the people
they’re supposed to take care of. Does it surprise you that oil
companies are against us as we try to spark investment in wind and
solar and advanced battery technology, building a clean energy
future?. Does it surprise you where this money is coming from?”
He said the banks, credit card companies and other large corporations
are against the administration.
“Does it surprise you that Karl Rove and his friends — Karl Rove, the
architect of the policies that drove us into this ditch — are back
raising tens of millions of dollars from shady sources, shady in the
sense that we don’t know where the money is coming from,” he said.
“For the first time in modern American history, they don’t have to
He questioned the motives of the big donors who are funding the
efforts of the Tea Party movement.
“Do you think it’s because they’re worried about the little folk?” he
said. “Do you really think it’s because they’re worried about the Tea
Party obsession with one thing or another?”
He challenged Rove “to tell us where that money is coming from.”
“I challenge the Chamber of Commerce to tell us how much of the money
they’re investing is from foreign sources,” he said. “I challenge
them, if I’m wrong I will stand corrected. But show me, show me. Folks
they’re trying to buy this election to go back to exactly what they
did before. Watch what happens in the next two and a half weeks what
happens here because Chris is in a tight race and moving ahead.”
The big corporate interests are “feeling threatened by what we’re doing.”
He labelled the Republican “Pledge to America” the “Threat to
America,” which he said would add $1 trillion to the deficit.
“And it contains the exact same stuff they’ve always done. Hundreds of
billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. More letting banks
and big business do whatever they want without oversight, zero fiscal
responsibility, continuing to put everything on the next generation’s
credit card and leaving you to pick up the tab.”
He said Bill Clinton left George Bush with a $232 billion surplus and
a projected $5 trillion surplus over the next decade.
President Bush left behind a $1.3 trillion deficit and a projected $8
trillion deficit, he said.
He noted NRCC chairman Pete Sessions’ remarks on Meet the Press.
“He said and I quote, ‘We will go back to the exact same agenda,'” Biden said.
“Let me translate that for you. That means they’ll do the exact same
things that drove us into this ditch in the first place.”
“Folks when you look at the alternative the choice has never been more
stark. Chris is going to join in making permanent tax cuts for
middle-class families so they don’t have to fall behind. His opponent
Tom is going to give tax cuts to millionaires.”
He said $370 billion of the tax cut “they want to add on” will go to
people who earn an average of $8.4 million a year.
“Folks this is not fair,” he said.
Chris will join in building an economy on “innovation, science, technology.”
“Tom Marino will try to build an economy based on financial
speculation and benign neglect by pulling back the restraints we
placed on Wall Street, rational restraints, transparency,” he said.
“Chris is going to join us in helping keep patients healthy. His
opponent will join the other team in making insurance companies even
more wealthy. Chris believes that Social Security is a sacred promise
we made to seniors. His opponent is a guy who believes we can’t afford
to keep faith with our seniors. He said, I’m told, that his generation
and the generation that follows are quote, ‘not going to get Social
Security.’ Well if they have their way, they’re right they’re not
going to get Social Security.”
2. From the hotel, the motorcade traveled to 2446 N. Washington Ave.
in Scranton’s Green Ridge section, Biden’s childhood home until his
family moved to Delaware when he was 10 years old and where he
frequently returned for vacations and holidays as a teenager. The home
is owned by Anne Kearns, who bought it with her husband from the
Finnegan family. The vice president’s mother was Jean Finnegan, and
her family owned it. The Kearnses bought it 48 years ago. Mrs. Biden
returned to the home for the first time in a long time on Labor Day
2008 for a campaign stop with her candidate son. During that visit,
the future vice president wrote “I Am Home, Joe Biden, 9*1*08.” on
the wall of the third-floor bedroom where he once slept. His sister,
Valerie, and brother, James, shared the room.
Greeted by Kearns family members, the vice president stepped into the
living room and kitchen and retold the story of how when bullies
attacked him once, his mother made him go back outside and punched the
biggest one in the nose.
“I was more afraid of my mother,” he said. “I swear to God, I walked
out there, climbed the — there used to be a wooden slat fence there
— And I get out there (and the bully says), ‘Hadn’t had enough, huh
Biden?'” he said. “And I went, bam, smacked right in the (nose). Blood
spurted all over. And he (yelled) ‘Awww’ and took off and I went back
in and my mom gave me 25 cents. True story, true story.”
He also retold the stories of how family members would sit at the
kitchen table with Tommy Phillips, the former political reporter at
the old Scranton Tribune, talking politics. He recalled returning from
Mass and being required to drink eight ounces of water after receiving
Communion, a church requirement then.
“When you got to be about 14 or 15, you could wander around the table,
but you couldn’t sit. This is where I learned an awful lot from my
grandfather,” he said.
While the men talked politics, the women would sit at another table
covered by a lace tablecloth drinking tea.
Great memories, he said, recalling the layout of the first floor.
Mrs. Kearns recalled how Mr. Biden’s mother called her afterward and
recalled the emotion of visiting “that back yard.”
“She said, ‘When I was in that back yard, I was so emotional, she
said, because ‘I kept thinking, we buried my mother and father from
there and I had my children, I brought them home there. We got married
from there.’ She was just so wonderful to talk to and she said, “Now
did anybody live in that house besides you?” And I said, “No we bought
it from your family. And she said, ‘Oh, I’m so glad because it’s
another big Irish family with five boys.'”
Biden told the story about how his father walked up the short flight
of stairs from the first to the third floor and announced he would
have to take a job in Delaware to make ends meet.
“I remember him walking up and saying, ‘Joey, dad’s going to be gone
for a year or so, but we’ll come back,'” he said. “When I got to be
about 30 I realized how much harder it must have been to walk in the
pantry to say to my grandfather, Ambrose, ‘Can you keep Jean and the
kids for a year?’ He was a proud guy. The joke used to be about
Scranton that everybody was from Scranton. Scranton is doing a lot
“He went out on his own for a year and he’d come home every weekend,
almost every weekend.”
He joked that he moved to Delaware because the famous Casey political
family lived in the neighborhood.
“I used to joke when I’d come up, I’d say, ‘There’s only one reason I
moved. There was room for only one family to come out of Scranton.'”
Mrs. Kearns joked that Mr. Biden should move back.
“We have a vice president, we had a governor, we had Bob Casey the
senator, we had Congressman Joe McDade, we had (federal) Judge (John)
Murphy, all within eight blocks,” she said. “So this house is going to
be worth a lot of money. My husband always said, ‘Hang on to this
house’ because he knew him (Biden) from younger years and he said,
‘He’s going to be somebody someday.'”
After leaving the house, Biden went outside where he mingled and posed
for pictures with neighbors. One girl wanted to make sure she got her
picture taken with him because she had a social science test in school
and wanted proof of where she was. He recalled playing ball in the
“It’s just so great be home,” he told reporters. “You know when you
leave Scranton, it doesn’t leave your heart. And I mean for real,
nothing but good memories here … Now if any of the guys I grew up
with tell you I jumped out of that tree on top of the trolley, don’t
3. The motorcade headed next to Hank’s Hoagies, a neighborhood
institution. For the 50th anniversary of the Green Ridge Little League
in 2001, the league had the photo of Biden turned into a
post-card-sized photo that they handed out. At the end of the visit,
Tom Owens, owner of Hank’s, had Biden autographed the back of his
photo. Owens recalled seeing Biden at the Little League World Series.
Biden signed it with a Sharpie: “Thanks to Hank’s for the memories, Joe Biden.”
“I was a big kid, man,” Biden said upon seeing the photo. “Hey, no one
messed with me. Actually, I was a little too young to play in the
league but I played the first year. It was the first year that the
Green Ridge Little League opened up.”
“Well thank you, thank you very much, sir,” Owens said.
“Thanks a million,” Biden said. “Okay, see you guys.”
During the visit inside Hank’s, he greeted customers Colleen Leonard,
Mary Howells, Tom McGowan, his granddaughter, Lillie, 4, plus Kathleen
Haikes and her daughters Elizabeth, 9, and David 8. ESPN’s Sportcenter
played on a TV in the background.
“It’s cool,” Elizabeth said of meeting the vice president as she
nodded her head.
He asked David, “How old are you man?”
“Eight,” David replied.
“You’re getting old, man,” Biden said.
“So nice to meet you,” Ms. Leonard said.
The vice president, joined by Congressman Carney, ordered an Italian
hoagie with no mayonnaise, and got a Hank’s Root Beer out of the
cooler. The vice president also opened and ate two Tastykake
Creme-Filled Chocolate Cupcake with white icing and a brown stripe
through it. Hank’s Root Beer, Owens said, is not named after his
Tastykake is a brand that’s big in the Philadelphia area and
circulates heavily in Delaware, too. Carney ordered the same thing and
also got a root beer, but did not have the cupcakes. Biden paid the
bill, but Owens could not remember how much it was.
“Tastykakes are even bigger where I live,” he said. “They’re out of
Philadelphia … Don’t tell Jill I ate this.”
The vice president walked with out with the root beer and a brown bag
with the hoagie in it.
The next stop was the open-press event at a Carney campaign office in
Dickson City, a borough that bordders Scranton.