I went to a Biden event in Bishopville, SC last night to see the man speak after a month of being frustrated by the "clean and articulate" comment. After seeing Obama wow the crowds in Columbia a few weeks ago, I felt it was time to give my former boss a second chance.
I'll try and post a video of his speech (it's short at 15 minutes), because he brought up a few interesting points during the discussion. I've heard his views on Iraq too many times to remember, and I've always thought he'd be the best person to deal with that situation. But he surprised me when he announced last night that he's going to hold an international conference with world leaders in Europe to try and get our (former?) allies to come together to deal with a solution to Iraq and the global problem of Islamist terrorism.
He was more specific than any other candidate I've seen so far (I haven't seen Dodd yet), and he actually reminded me of Howard Dean when he talked about running a campaign in the red states if he wins the primary. He doesn't want to run a 50% +1 campaign, and that's very encouraging to me, and not something I thought would come out of Biden. It would definitely help in NC in 2008.
Then he hit health care. He wants to immediately insure everyone under 18 and provide catastrophic coverage for all of 47 million uninsured. I think that's something we'll have the political will to do; he also wants to take the best ideas from the states that are implementing universal coverage to come up with the best solution for all 50 states. And I cheered along with everyone else when he proposed doubling National Institutes of Health funding. I think Biden could get his plan through Congress.
But the part of his speech that made me think came up during Q&A - Biden believes that mental illnesses should be treated on par with traditionally defined illness. I don't know where I stand on this (your thoughts are appriciated), but this assertion brought perhaps the most vocal shows of support I saw all night.
After the event, about 14 people and the Senator went to a small Huddle House near the interstate for dinner. I was encouraged. The Huddle House impromptu wasn't quite as down to earth as some of our Kissell events, but it was interesting to see Biden effortlessly go back and forth between talking about everyday, middle-class issues and his long repertoire of DC stories from his 34 years in the Senate. I'd like to see him debate Edwards on health care, and see whose plan I support afterward (I do like Edwards's plan in spite of what I don't like about him). I think he's learned from the Obama comment, and I hope he ends up running this race hard.