Biden courts D.C. Jews

Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, spoke to a Democratic Jewish organization in Northwest D.C. Tuesday, highlighting his ties to the Jewish community and attacking Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain on issues ranging from the economy to rising higher education costs.

The event, which was held at the Washington Hilton, was part of a two-day gathering to discuss issues surrounding the Jewish vote. Biden recounted a family trip to Auschwitz during his children’s first trip abroad, touted his support for Israel as a senator and listed his many friends in the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Washington Conference.

“This is kind of like a homecoming,” said Biden, who is Catholic.

He quickly shifted the topic from nostalgia to the current presidential race. Though Biden called McCain “my friend” and often referred to him by only his first name, he attacked the Arizona senator for being “out of touch with the dilemma American families are facing.”

Biden also accused the Republican presidential nominee of deliberately distorting the Obama-Biden tax plan.

“No one but John McCain continues to misinterpret it,” Biden said, referring to McCain’s suggestion that the Democrats would raise taxes on the middle class.

Biden drew loud applause from the crowd when he discussed the prospect of a Supreme Court dominated by Democrat-appointed judges. He also touched upon the hot-button issues of health care, stem cell research and higher education.

“We all talk about working our way through college. Give me a break,” he said, scoffing at the notion that most people can easily pay their way through college with part-time jobs. Biden acknowledged how fortunate he is to have a senator’s salary in dealing with his children’s college debt, which collectively amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

Among his remedies for rising tuition was the expansion of volunteer programs that help students pay for college if they commit themselves to national service.

Biden warned of similarities between President George W. Bush and McCain, reminding the audience that both called themselves reformers and promised to work across party lines.

“We see how that story has ended,” Biden said, referring to the Bush presidency. “The sequel is always worse than the original.”

Comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken, who is running as a Democrat in Minnesota for the Senate, also spoke at the conference. Franken predicted a Democratic win in the November presidential election and made a fund raising appeal for his campaign.

Franken said, “I believe we’re going to replace one of our worst sitting presidents with one of our best.”

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