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Dec 072012

ABC News(ARLINGTON, Va.) — Vice President Joe Biden took seven middle-class taxpayers to lunch at a diner in suburban northern Virginia Friday, highlighting their concern about the looming tax hike that could hit at the end of the month.

“This is no time to add any additional burden for middle-class people,” Biden said, seated with his guests at a table after the meal had been cleared.

“It would take 15 minutes from the time the decision was made by the speaker of the House to pass and make permanent a middle-class tax cut,” he said. “The president would probably have me sprint up to the Hill to bring the bill down and to sign it.

“It can be done like that,” he said, with a snap of his fingers.

The White House has been pressuring lawmakers to enact a tax-cut extension immediately for 98 percent of Americans – individuals earning less than $200,000 a year and families earning less than $250,000 a year – a move that would refocus the “fiscal cliff” debate on top tax rates, entitlement spending and the debt ceiling.

Republicans oppose decoupling the middle-income tax cuts from the upper-income cuts, however, preferring to negotiate on an entire package deal.

Negotiations to avert the cliff have stalled over the administration’s insistence top rates must rise and power to raise the debt ceiling must shift to the White House.

“There are two irreducible minimum requirements for us,” Biden reiterated today, though he noted how much rates could rise is “negotiable.”

“I’m an optimistic [person], genetically,” Biden said, when asked for his outlook on having a deal by Dec. 31.

Earlier in the lunch, Biden also commented on Friday’s jobs report, saying, “I think we have turned the corner” on the economy.

“It’s undeniable the trajectory is positive,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 092012

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — When Vice President Joe Biden steps on the stage at Centre College for the Vice Presidential debate in Kentucky Thursday night, it will be the first time the vice president has been on national television airwaves answering questions from a reporter since the May Meet the Press interview when he expressed his comfort with gay marriage.

The vice president has engaged in no national TV interviews and few local and print interviews since May, which forced President Obama to complete his evolution on the issue sooner than expected.

Biden’s lack of subsequent national interviews stands in stark contrast to his Republican counterpart Rep. Paul Ryan, who is creeping towards the 200 interview mark since he entered the race in August.  Ryan conducts interviews with local television stations during many of his campaign stops as well as national interviews, including a recent joint interview with his running mate Mitt Romney with FOX News’ Sean Hannity last week.

In contrast, Biden has only completed one major national interview since Ryan entered the race.  The vice president granted access to New York Magazine’s John Heilemann in August for a cover story that took place over a three day campaign swing through North Carolina and Virginia.  That was the same campaign swing in which Republicans seized on Biden’s suggestion to a predominantly African American audience that the GOP would put people “back in chains” by undoing a Wall Street Reform bill.

By ABC News’ count, Biden has conducted less than a handful of interviews with local television stations and newspapers over the summer and into the Fall months.  In May, Biden took time for an interview with WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio where he was asked about the more than 40 percent of West Virginia voters who cast their ballot for a Texas inmate in the state’s Democratic primary.

Reporters traveling with Biden have had few opportunities to question the candidate.  Last week, he spoke with reporters about his debate prep outside a Hy-Vee supermarket in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Earlier in the month, reporters shouted questions to Biden the day after Romney’s 47 percent video surfaced but only received a response of “I’ll let his words speak for themselves.”

While Biden has engaged in few on-the-record question and answer sessions with reporters, he does take the time to directly answer questions posed to him by voters, whether it’s over the phone while dialing up potential voters at campaign field offices in Iowa or Ohio or taking questions as he sits down to eat lunch at a restaurant.  During a stop last month at Nestor’s Gourmet Deli in Boca Raton, Fla., Biden engaged in a conversation with a voter who had questions about how President Obama’s healthcare plan would lower the amount he pays for healthcare. Biden interspersed answers with slurps from a bowl of soup and bites from a tuna salad platter he had ordered.

The Obama campaign did not respond immediately to a request for comment but previously noted to ABC News that the vice president has maintained a vigorous campaign schedule throughout the election cycle.

“Day after day, event after event, the Vice President has been traveling across the country all year making the case about what’s truly at stake in this election, taking Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan’s agenda head on and making clear why President Obama is the right choice for middle class families.  In more than 100 events this year, the Vice President has been campaigning in states across the country directly connecting with voters in their communities,” a campaign official told ABC News last month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 042012

Joe Raedle/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa) — In his first comments about his debate next week against Rep. Paul Ryan, Vice President Joe Biden said he’s focusing his prep on ensuring he has all his facts straight.

“What I’ve been doing mostly, quite frankly, is studying up on Congressman Ryan’s positions on the issues, and Gov. Romney has embraced at least everything I can see. I don’t want to say anything in the debate that’s not completely accurate,” Biden told reporters outside a Hy-Vee in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

“For example,” he added, “I’ve been saying to you all that Gov. Romney has embraced the Ryan budget. Well, he has. He’s gone back and said, no, he agrees with it. I just want to make sure when I say these things that I don’t have the congressman saying, ‘No, no, no, I don’t have that position,’ or, ‘That’s not the governor’s position.’ So it’s mainly getting the factual predicates … on key issues on which Gov. Romney has spoken and Congressman Ryan has acted.”

Biden has held two mock debate sessions with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who is playing Ryan, R-Wis., in debate prep.

The vice president praised President Obama’s performance at the first presidential debate Wednesday in Denver and noted that it’s difficult to anticipate what position Mitt Romney will take on certain issues.

“I thought the president did well,” Biden said. “He was presidential. I think that you just never know what game, what position Gov. Romney’s going to come with. I mean, you know, the centerpiece of their economic policy so far has been their tax cut, and last night we found out he doesn’t have a $5 trillion tax cut, and I guess he outsourced that to China or something. I don’t know if that’s off-shored. … But it’s hard to figure out what Gov. Romney’s position is on a number of issues.”

“But I think as time goes on, meaning days, it’s going to become pretty clear that Gov. Romney has either changed a number of his positions or didn’t remember some of his positions,” Biden said. “And I think at the end of the day, we have two more debates coming up, the president does, and I feel really good about it.”

Asked if Wednesday’s debate raised expectations for his own match-up with Ryan next week, the vice president said he’s looking forward to sparring with Ryan, but suggested such situations are not easy.

“All debates are tough,” he said. “You can sit there and say, ‘You know, I would have done that and I would have done this.’ You hear people saying that. Well, it is nothing like standing up before 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-, 70 million people.”

“All debates are tough, but I am looking forward to it. I really am,” he said. “The thing about Congressman Ryan is he has been straightforward up to now about everything — all the significant changes he wants to make. We have a fundamentally different view on a whole range of issues. So I hope it will be a good debate.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Aug 222012

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) — It was just hours before Mitt Romney would unveil Paul Ryan as his running mate, but Florida Senator Marco Rubio didn’t know anything about it. Rubio spent the evening out on a boat with his children, away from his phone, which showed four missed calls from Romney when the group returned.

When Rubio finally did get in touch with the candidate, Romney said — according to remarks Rubio made Wednesday, first reported by the Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett — “We’re going to be announcing our VP tomorrow and you’re going to be excited about the pick I’ve made.”

That pick, of course, was Ryan. But Rubio took the decision in stride, telling Romney, “Well, that’s really good news because I just bought a four-day cruise. ”

Rubio is the second vice presidential also-ran to tell his story this week. On Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gathered reporters on the Asbury Park boardwalk to recount his exchange with Romney.

Christie was headed home after raising money for the ticket out west, he said, when Romney emailed, asking to speak when the governor’s plane landed.

When they finally connected over the phone, “[Romney] told me that he decided to go in a different direction for vice president, asked me if I would be willing to do the keynote address [at the Republican convention]. I told him that I would be.”

Christie had flirted with a primary run of his own, but eventually demurred. Once Romney emerged as the presumptive nominee, he denied having any interest in joining the ballot.

But even then, Christie admitted the decision stung a bit.

“It’s like being asked out on a date. If you’re asked, you don’t have to say yes,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done if he had asked me.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Aug 022012

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Beth Myers, the head of Mitt Romney’s VP search, will join the Republican presidential candidate in Colorado today.

With Myers in tow, Romney will attend an event with Republican governors in Basalt, Colo., this afternoon where a number of potential running mates will be on hand, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

While there is no indication whether Romney and Myers will meet with any of the VP potentials, her presence at the event highlights how near Romney’s announcement looms with less than four weeks until the Republican National Convention.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio