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Gazette Online - Biden Makes Pitch in Cedar County

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Location: Tipton, IA

Gazette Online - Biden Makes Pitch in Cedar County

``I'm here to audition -- like the other 800 candidates for president,'' Joe Biden joked at a campaign stop in Tipton on Monday afternoon.

He'll get a callback from David Hunt, who listened intently, took copious notes and asked questions of the long time Delaware senator who's seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

``Well, first, any of the Democrats would be better than any of the alternatives,'' Hunt said as he assessed Biden's speaking performance in front about three dozen Cedar County Democrats.

He liked Biden's answers to questions about who should control Iraqi oil, lifting the $97,000 cap on Social Security taxes and his plan to get troops out of Iraq.

However, Hunt wasn't ready to commit to caucus for Biden.

``I'm coming out of this positive,'' Hunt said. ``I've got it narrowed down to two or three, and he's still in that two or three.''

While Biden, who made similar stops Monday in Manchester, Vinton and Marengo, might have asked for something more definite from Hunt, Cedar County Chairwoman Linda Carrillo of West Branch said Hunt is the rule rather than the exception.

``I don't think there's any real consensus candidate,'' said Carrillo, who introduced Biden. Support for the candidates is ``pretty fluid,'' she said.

If they hope to succeed, Democrats need to nominate a candidate who can do more than ``rile up the base,'' Biden said.

``Sometimes we Democrats talk like we can solve these problems by ourselves,'' he said.

But getting anything done requires the ability to persuade about 15 percent of Republicans to go along, something he has been able to do over the years, Biden said.

For example, he pointed to passage two weeks ago, by a 75-23 margin, of his plan calling for a political solution in Iraq based on a decentralized, federal system of government. More than half of the Senate Republicans supported his measure.

``Look, the next president is going to be determined by the nation's largest party --independents,'' Biden said.

``The next president better be somebody able to cross the aisle.''

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