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Ottumwa Courier - Biden Talks About America's Place in the World

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Location: Ottumwa, IA

Ottumwa Courier - Biden Talks About America's Place in the World

Candidate says message should be showing the world the U.S. is getting back to its core values

By MARK NEWMAN Courier staff writer

Though the guest of honor was Iowa Rep. Mary Gaskill, she gave the microphone over to the key note speaker, Sen. Joe Biden.

The presidential candidate was in Ottumwa Sunday to offer his support for Gaskill's run for re-election. But Gaskill saw the fundraiser as a chance for Biden to get his message out.

"I wanted to give my people, anybody in the district, a chance to hear Sen. Biden," she said.

It's a matter of Democrats helping other Democrats; he supports Gaskill and gets a chance to share his message. That message Sunday revolved around showing the world America is getting back to its core values.

"We've never been more isolated from the rest of the world," he told around 50 people at the Elks Lodge.

There was a time when world leaders would trust the word of the American president, he said. Can anyone think of a world leader who would take the current president at his word without proof, he asked.

Biden has spent time with world leaders, he said, and knows them well enough to have candid conversations with them. And they are waiting, he said, waiting for an American leader to bring the United States back to the things we as a people believe in, back to being idealists.

Then, the United States can lead the rest of the world into a better direction; a "new regime" of arms control, of trade, of international cooperation.

But first, we need an obstacle, a boulder, out of the middle of the road, and that boulder is the war in Iraq.

Unlike candidates who have said they'll bring all troops home the first day, Biden said he is trying to be realistic. Even when looking at logistics, it would take a year to physically remove American forces.

While the United States military is pulling out, a political solution must be put into place.

Giving each sect their own part of Iraq, with control over their own daily lives and their own police force, with a weak central government, has worked in the past and could work in Iraq. But the war America is fighting cannot go on.

In addition to moral and political reasons, there are financial concerns. Biden said with the money from a month of war, he could send thousands of qualified young people to college with increased financial aid.

It's a question of priorities. Biden referred to a saying he learned from his father.

"Don't tell me your values; show me your budget, and I'll tell you your values," he said.

The one criticism he hears of his party, the Democrats, is they are too timid, Biden said.

"We've got to tell the people the truth. I've been critical of this administration for not leveling with the American people," he said. "We've got to level with people."

No foreign policy, no matter how well supported it may be, will succeed without the American people behind it.

"You've got to get them to buy in," he said.

And a large part of that, he said, is trusting them to do the right thing when they hear the truth.

Mark Newman can be reached at 683-5358 or by e-mail at

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