By Matthew Jaffe
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., on Sunday guaranteed that if elected, Sen. Barack Obama., D-Ill., will be tested by an international crisis within his first six months in power and he will need supporters to stand by him as he makes tough, and possibly unpopular, decisions.
“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”
“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. “And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”
Not only will the next administration have to deal with foreign affairs issues, Biden warned, but also with the current economic crisis.
“Gird your loins,” Biden told the crowd. “We’re gonna win with your help, God willing, we’re gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride. This president, the next president, is gonna be left with the most significant task. It’s like cleaning the Augean stables, man. This is more than just, this is more than – think about it, literally, think about it – this is more than just a capital crisis, this is more than just markets. This is a systemic problem we have with this economy.”
The Delaware lawmaker managed to rake in an estimated $1 million total from his two money hauls at the downtown Sheraton, the same hotel where four years ago Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., clinched the Democratic nomination. Despite warning about the difficulties the next administration will face, Biden said the Democratic ticket is equipped to meet the challenges head on.
“I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I’m not being falsely humble with you. I think I can be value added, but this guy has it,” the Senate Foreign Relations chairman said of Obama. “This guy has it. But he’s gonna need your help. Because I promise you, you all are gonna be sitting here a year from now going, ‘Oh my God, why are they there in the polls? Why is the polling so down? Why is this thing so tough?’ We’re gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I’m asking you now, I’m asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you’re going to have to reinforce us.”
“There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don’t know about that decision’,” Biden continued. “Because if you think the decision is sound when they’re made, which I believe you will when they’re made, they’re not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they’re popular, they’re probably not sound.”
Biden emphasized that the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border is of particular concern, with Osama bin Laden “alive and well” and Pakistan “bristling with nuclear weapons.”
“You literally can see what these kids are up against, our kids in that region,” Biden said in recalling when his helicopter was forced down due to a snowstorm there. “The place is crawling with al Qaeda. And it’s real.”
“We do not have the military capacity, nor have we ever, quite frankly, in the last 20 years, to dictate outcomes,” he cautioned. “It’s so much more important than that. It’s so much more complicated than that. And Barack gets it.”
After speaking for just over a quarter of an hour, Biden noticed the media presence in the back of the small ballroom.
“I probably shouldn’t have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here,” he joked.
“All kidding aside, these guys have left us in a God-awful place,” he then said of the Bush regime, promptly wrapping up his remarks. “We have the ability to straighten it out. It’s gonna take a little bit of time, so I ask you to stay with us. Stay with us.”
The minute the press ran with this, Obama for America released some of Biden’s health records to attract the attention over to that.
Joe Biden appears in very good health, with some of the routine issues of aging, but there’s no evidence that he has had a brain scan to rule out completely another aneurysm like the one that required emergency lifesaving surgery 20 years ago.
The Democratic vice presidential candidate’s medical records, released to reporters Monday, show no reason for concern about another aneurysm: He has no symptoms, seems to have healthy heart arteries and is active.
Like many other 65-year-old men, Biden does have an enlarged prostate but no sign of prostate cancer. He takes the statin drug Zocor to keep his cholesterol in the healthy range, and his blood pressure is a good 120 over 78.
However, the Delaware senator did have an episode of an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation in July 2006, and possibly a second that corrected on its own. A full cardiac exam that July and another four months later showed no cardiovascular disease.
His doctor implied then that subsisting on little but coffee the day the first heart fluttering struck may have been the cause, and urged less caffeine, more exercise and an aspirin a day. Biden doesn’t appear to have had another heart exam since.
The health of presidential and vice presidential candidates is an issue every election but it’s taking on heightened importance this year largely because of questions surrounding the well-being of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a three-time melanoma survivor who at age 72 would be the nation’s oldest elected president.
McCain allowed reporters to view more than 1,000 pages of his own medical records in the spring. Democrat Barack Obama did not release actual records, though his personal physician wrote a letter attesting to the 47-year-old’s good health.