Iowa City Press-Citizen - Biden Makes Campaign Stop in Iowa City
Presidential hopeful focuses on foreign policy problems
By Kathryn Fiegen
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Sen. Joe Biden told a packed house at Hamburg Inn No. 2 that the next president of the United States will have the opportunity to change the direction of the entire world.
Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate from Delaware, focused much of his stump speech on foreign policy issues, saying the current apathy among American voters is making the rest of the world uneasy.
"As much as they resent our power, they are fearful of our loss in direction," he said.
Biden said the "boulder" blocking the country's ability to solve many of its problems is Iraq. With so many resources being dedicated to the war, which he said was not justified or planned, Biden said the United States can't find ways to fix health care or the environment.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this war must end, and this war must end now," he said.
Biden also said he would close Guantanamo Bay and abide by the Geneva Conventions, a statement that got applause from the audience, including Iowa City resident Marc Reynolds.
"I think Sen. Biden is the most articulate Democrat probably on foreign policy," he said after the event ended. "I think Guantanamo Bay should be closed."
Biden said candidates now are telling voters exactly what they want to hear, that troops could be pulled from Iraq right away, or that health care problems could be whisked away with a single congressional vote.
He said voters should remain optimistic but realize that solutions to the country's problems will not be that simple.
"Well, it won't be painless and it won't be quick," Biden said. "It took us a long time to get into this hole and it will take us a long time to get out."
But, he said, some of the first things he would do in office would be to insure every child and repeal tax cuts given to the wealthy, "who didn't ask for it and who don't need it."
Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29 and is serving his sixth term. He is chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He was a candidate in the 1988 election for president but dropped out.
Biden, who paused often to let more people squeeze into the Linn Street diner, kept his speech fairly brief so he could take questions from the audience.
Audience members wanted to know about Biden's plan for the environment and what he would do to decrease the country's carbon emissions dependence on oil.
Biden said the Bush policies of giving tax breaks to oil companies and looking to them to solve the oil problems were "backwards." The country should go back to pre-Bush days, he said, and invest more in alternative energy technology.
Another question dealt with Biden's plan for curbing the influence of special interest on lawmaking bodies. He said the solution was simple, and one he has been advocating for a long time -- public financing of political campaigns.
"The cost of campaigning is so absolutely, obscenely expensive," he said, noting current estimates that it takes $100 million to compete in Iowa's primaries.
Biden spent time outside the restaurant, which was also the location of a Friday campaign stop by former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, to take more questions and shake hands.
Iowa City resident Dianne Dillon-Ridgley waited to have her picture taken with him and said she has always respected his foreign policy positions.
"He has always been sober, eloquent and 99 percent of the time, right," she said.