Iowa Public Television

 

Senator Joe Biden

posted on November 28, 2007

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Borg: EXPERIENCED AND TENACIOUS. BEGINNING WITH HIS FIRST CAMPAIGN FOR THE SENATE IN 1972, DELAWARE SENATOR JOE BIDEN IS KNOWN FOR PERSERVERING THROUGH BIG CHALLENGES. WE'LL QUESTION HIM ABOUT HIS BID FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS, DEDICATED TO A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT BY SHIPPING EACH TON OF FREIGHT OVER 400 MILES ON ONE GALLON OF FUEL. AMERICA'S FREIGHT RAILROADS, ON THE WEB AT FREIGHTRAILWORKS.ORG. THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: FIRST ELECTED AT AGE 29, SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN, IN HIS 34TH YEAR NOW REPRESENTING DELAWARE IN THE U.S. SENATE, IS ONE OF THE LONGEST SERVING NOW MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. ALONG WITH SENIORITY, THOUGH, HE'S EARNED EXPERT STATUS, PARTICULARLY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, CURRENTLY CHAIRING THE SENATE'S FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. JUST COMPLETING AN INTENSE CAMPAIGN SCHEDULE IN IOWA DURING THE PAST FEW DAYS, HE'S JOINING US THIS EVENING. SENATOR BIDEN, WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Biden: IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK, DEAN. THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Borg: AND WE HAVE A NEW SET SINCE --

Biden: YEAH, IT'S IMPRESSIVE. I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, MAN, I WAS SAYING THIS IS THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PUBLIC TELEVISION FACILITY IN THE COUNTRY.

Borg: BUT YOU RECOGNIZE THE PEOPLE ACROSS THE TABLE.

Biden: I DO. THEY'RE NOT NEARLY AS IMPRESSIVE. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: THEY'RE 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR, YOU'RE PROBABLY AS INTIMATELY AWARE WHAT GOINGS ON IN IOWA AS ANY OF THE CANDIDATES. YOU'VE BEEN HERE MORE THAN MOST OF THEM. YOU'VE BEEN HERE A LOT. WHAT'S THE STATE OF PLAY IN IOWA? WHERE DO THINGS STAND?

Biden: I THINK WHERE THEY STAND IS THAT THE VAST MAJORITY -- I ONLY CAN SPEAK TO THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, AND I'M NOT EVEN SURE I CAN SPEAK TO THAT. BUT WE HAVE NOW HIT LITERALLY 88 OF 99 COUNTIES IN THIS SWING -- I MEAN SWING, THE LAST FIVE MONTHS. IOWANS ARE -- DEMOCRATS ARE REALLY ENGAGED. THEY'RE TRULY STILL UNDECIDED. THEY'RE LOOKING. THEY'RE NOW JUST BEGINNING TO MAKE UP THEIR MIND, IN MY EXPERIENCE. CROWDS ARE, AT LEAST FOR ME AND IN ORDINARY TIMES, BIG. PEOPLE ARE SHOWING UP IN CAFES, 150, 200, 250 PEOPLE IN HOUSE PARTIES AND 150 PEOPLE. SO FOR ME IT DEMONSTRATES THEY'RE REALLY ENGAGED. AND I THINK WHAT'S GOING ON, MIKE, IS I THINK THEY THINK THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION THEY'VE EVER PARTICIPATED IN. I THINK THEY THINK THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO HAVE AN AWFUL LOT ON HIS OR HER PLATE AND HAS AN AWFUL LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES, BUT THEY'RE FOCUSED.

Glover: ONE OF THE FIGHTS THAT YOU HAVE IS TO TRY TO BREAK INTO THE TOP TIER OF CANDIDATES. BUT ISN'T YOUR REAL FIGHT WITH RIVALS LIKE CHRIS DODD AND BILL RICHARDSON, AND DON'T YOU HAVE TO GET PAST THEM TO STAY ALIVE?

Biden: I REALLY DON'T THINK SO BECAUSE -- LET ME PUT IT THIS WAY, I THINK ONE OF US IS GOING TO END OF SUPPLANTING ONE OF THE SO-CALLED TOP-TIER CANDIDATES. AND I THINK IF YOU TAKE A LOOK, YOU GIVE US EACH SORT OF OUR DAY OR TIME IN THE BARREL THERE, YOU KNOW, TO SEE IF WE RISE UP. I HAVEN'T GONE ON TELEVISION YET. I'M GOING TO BE DOING THAT. I HAVEN'T DONE ANY PAID MEDIA. I'M TIED WITH RICHARDSON. I'M AHEAD OF DODD BUT WE'RE BOTH -- WE'RE ALL DOWN IN THE LOW SINGLE DIGITS OR THE MIDSINGLE DIGITS. BUT WHAT'S HAPPENED IS THE TOP TIER IS FROZEN. NOTHING IS MOVING. THEY'VE SPENT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. NOTHING IS MOVING. AND SO I THINK IT'S ABOUT -- I THINK IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE ARE STILL LOOKING AT THAT TOP TIER AND LOOKING AT WHETHER OR THEY WANT TO STAY THERE.

Glover: BUT TO TURN THE QUESTION ON ITS EAR, YOU THINK ONE OF YOU WILL SUPPLANT ONE OF THE TOP THREE?

Biden: I THINK SO.

Glover: DOESN'T THAT MEAN THAT THE TWO WHO DON'T DON'T GO FURTHER?

Biden: OH, YEAH. NO, NO, NO. I'M SORRY, I MISUNDERSTOOD YOUR QUESTION. LOOK, I HAVE A BAD HABIT OF SAYING WHAT I THINK. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS IF I DON'T COME OUT OF HERE IN THE TOP THREE, UNLESS YOU'RE BUNCHED UP -- ALL THREE OR FOUR ARE BUNCHED UP, THEN I'M OUT OF HERE. QUITE FRANKLY, BUT IF BARACK DOESN'T COME OUT OF HERE IN THE TOP THREE, HE'S OUT. IF EDWARDS DOESN'T COME IN IN THE TOP THREE, HE'S OUT. HILLARY MAY BE THE ONLY ONE THAT COULD SURVIVE. IF SHE CAME OUT NOT IN THE TOP THREE, SHE'S BE FINISHED BECAUSE SHE'D GET EATEN UP IN THE OTHER EARLY STATES. SO, LOOK, YOU GUYS ARE THE GATEKEEPERS, AND THERE'S GOING TO BE THREE TICKETS OUT OF HERE I THINK.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WHAT'S YOUR MESSAGE TO THE IOWA DEMOCRATS TO TRY TO CONVINCE THEM TO PUT YOU IN THAT TOP THREE?

Biden: THE MESSAGE IS IT'S NOT ABOUT EXPERIENCE, WHICH I HAVE MORE THAN ANYONE RUNNING. IT'S NOT ABOUT CHANGE, WHICH I HAVE MORE THAN ANYONE RUNNING. IT'S NOT ABOUT CHANGE, WHICH I'VE BEEN THE CHANGE AGENT MORE THAN ANYONE RUNNING. IT'S ABOUT ACTION. IT'S ABOUT ACTION. YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE UP AN IMAGINED CRISIS. THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS GOING TO HAVE TO IMMEDIATELY DEAL WITH A NUMBER OF CRISES, AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT ME. I'VE TAKEN FIRM POSITIONS. I'VE STATED CONTEMPORANEOUSLY WHAT I WOULD DO AS PRESIDENT. THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT AND BEING PRESIDENT AND, IRONICALLY, I THINK PEOPLE ARE MORE FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU'LL DO BEING PRESIDENT THAN HOW YOU'RE RUNNING OUT HERE IN IOWA -- IN IOWA. IT MAY NOT BE THAT WAY AROUND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, BUT THEY'RE REALLY FOCUSED.

Yepsen: SENATOR, THERE'S A LOT OF BIPLAY GOING ON NOW IN THAT TOP TIER. THE CRITICISM OF EACH OTHER IS STARTING TO TURN NEGATIVE. I WAS TALKING WITH GOVERNOR RICHARDSON THE OTHER DAY, WHO SAID THAT HE THINKS THAT THE BOTTOM TIER OF CANDIDATES, THE THREE OF YOU -- SENATOR DODD, BILL RICHARDSON, AND YOURSELF -- ARE GOING BENEFIT FROM THIS NEGATIVITY. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? IS THE TOP TIER ATTACKING EACH OTHER GOING TO PROMPT IOWA DEMOCRATS TO TURN TO ONE OF YOU? WE SAW THAT FOUR YEARS AGO, SENATOR, WHEN DICK GEPHARDT AND HOWARD DEAN GOT INTO IT, AND IT WOUND UP WITH JOHN EDWARDS AND JOHN KERRY DOING WELL. IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN?

Biden: I HONEST TO GOD DON'T KNOW HOW THAT PLAYS OUT. THE ONLY THING I DO KNOW IS THAT SUPPORT FOR HILLARY, THE SUPPORT FOR BARACK, THE SUPPORT FOR JOHN IS SOFT, JUST FLAT SOFT. WHETHER THEY ATTACK EACH OTHER OR NOT, I VIEW IT -- AND I'VE ALWAYS VIEWED IT THIS WAY -- YOU'VE KNOWN ME FOR A LONG WHILE. I VIEW IT AS NOT ME VERSUS THEM. I VIEW IT AS ME VERSUS ME. IF I CAN BE THE BEST BIDEN I CAN BE, I'M GOING TO BEAT THEM. AND FOR ME IT'S ABOUT GETTING EXPOSURE. IT'S ABOUT GETTING THE OPPORTUNITY. I PROMISE, NOT A JOKE. YOU FOLKS HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING ME. THERE'S NOT A SINGLE EVENT I'VE DONE IN THESE LAST 11 DAYS THAT THERE HAVEN'T BEEN A DOZEN OR MORE PEOPLE, 20 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE SOMETIMES, COMING UP SAYING, I WAS FOR SO AND SO, I'VE SWITCHED TO YOU. I THINK IT'S ABOUT MY POSITIVE MESSAGE. I DON'T THINK -- I'M NOT SURE HOW MUCH IT HURTS ANY OF THE CANDIDATES, THEM POINTING OUT -- I JUST DON'T KNOW.

Yepsen: YOU'RE A BIT -- YOU'RE UNIQUE AMONG ALL THE CANDIDATES IN THAT YOU RAN OUT HERE IN 1988 AND WERE DOING QUITE WELL FOR A WHILE. IS THERE ANYTHING LEFT OVER FROM THAT FOR YOU? DO YOU FIND ANY RESIDUAL --

Biden: YEAH, THERE IS, BUT IT'S MARGINAL. WHAT'S LEFT OVER, A LOT OF REALLY GOOD PEOPLE WHO HAVE REMAINED LOYAL TO ME: THE TERRY GOODMANS UP IN DETROIT; DENISE DOLAN HERE IN TOWN; THE O'BRIENS OUT IN SIOUX CITY. THERE'S POCKETS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL VERY WELL RESPECTED IN THEIR COMMUNITIES WHO ARE BEEN BIDEN LOYALISTS AND FRIENDS -- BECOME FRIENDS FOR TWENTY YEARS. BUT I WOULDN'T EXAGGERATE THAT IN A SENSE THAT THEY BRING ALONG SOME CREDIBILITY FOR ME, BUT THEY DON'T -- I DON'T THINK -- MOST IOWANS STILL DON'T -- NOT MOST, MANY STILL DON'T KNOW A LOT ABOUT ME.

Glover: LET'S GET BEYOND THIS PRIMARY FIGHT IF WE COULD AND LET'S ASSUME YOU'RE THE NOMINEE. LET'S LOOK AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR. THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM ALL ALONG HAS BEEN IT'S GOING TO BE A PRETTY GOOD DEMOCRATIC YEAR: UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT, UNPOPULAR WAR. BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MATCHUPS -- THE POTENTIAL MATCHUP, IT LOOKS PRETTY TIGHT. WHAT DOES NEXT YEAR LOOK LIKE?

Biden: I THINK IT IS TIGHT. I THINK WHAT DEMOCRATS SHOULD BE LOOKING AT -- EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT THE PLAYBOOK FOR REPUBLICANS IS GOING TO BE. YOU COULD WRITE IT RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW IF IT'S GEORGE W. GIULIANI OR GEORGE W. -- LOOK, THEY'RE ALL GOING TO RUN ON THE SAME CONSERVATIVE POSITIONS, AND YOU KNOW WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO. THEY'RE GOING TO COME AT DEMOCRATS FOR BEING WEAK, NOT BEING STAND UP, NOT BEING STRONG ENOUGH ON NATIONAL SECURITY, NOT KNOWING ENOUGH ABOUT TERROR. WHAT I SAY TO PEOPLE, IMAGINE THAT RING. WHO DO YOU THINK CAN TAKE ON GIULIANI THE BEST? WHO DO YOU -- HE WON'T ANSWER BUT WHO DO YOU THINK? WHO CAN STAND TOE TO TOE WITH ANY ONE OF THEM AND NOT BACK DOWN, SHOW GREATER CREDENTIALS ON THOSE AREAS THAN ANY OF THEM HAVE BY A LONG SHOT AND RELISH THE OPPORTUNITY?

Glover: AND WHO DO YOU THINK THEY'LL NOMINATE.

Biden: I THINK -- WELL, YOU KNOW -- I DON'T KNOW. I MEAN I JUST DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THEIR PARTY. MY GUESS IS THE PEOPLE AHEAD. GIULIANI LOOKS LIKE HE'S STRONG. ROMNEY LOOKS -- BUT THEN YOU TALK ABOUT -- I JUST DON'T KNOW. I HAVE TROUBLE FIGURING OUT MY SIDE.

Borg: I'D LIKE TO GO TO SOME ISSUES AND DRAW UPON THE EXPERIENCE THAT YOU JUST MENTIONED. IN ANNAPOLIS DURING THE PAST WEEK WE WITNESSED WHAT SEEMS TO BE A NEW MIDDLE EAST PEACE INITIATIVE WITH A TARGET DATE.

Biden: YEP.

Borg: FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, DO YOU SEE ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAN GIVES YOU HOPE?

Biden: YES. WHAT GIVES ME HOPE IS THE SYRIANS SHOWED UP AS REPRESENTATIVES, THE ARAB STATES CAME IN, THE SUNNI STATES, AND OLMERT AS WELL AS ABBAS WOULD REALLY LIKE TO GET SOMETHING DONE, AND THEY'RE TAKING A GREAT RISK BECAUSE THEY HAVE SUCH LITTLE BASE IN THEIR HOME. HERE'S THE KEY, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE IT. THE ADMINISTRATION CAN MAKE SOMETHING OF THIS, BUT THEY'VE GOT TO -- IT'S NOT WHAT THEY AT ANNAPOLIS. IT'S WHAT THEY DO THE DAY AFTER AND EVERY DAY AFTER THAT. THIS HAS TO BE SOMETHING WHERE IF YOU READ THE STATEMENT THAT WAS ISSUED, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HAS TO -- WERE I PRESIDENT NOW, LITERALLY THE FIRST THING I WOULD DID, GIVE YOU MY WORD, I'D BE ON A PLANE NEXT MONDAY TO ISRAEL. THIS PRESIDENT HAS NEVER BEEN TO ISRAEL. HE'S NEVER BEEN THERE! I WOULD DEMONSTRATE THAT I'M WILLING TO RISK MY PRESIDENCY ON WHAT I THINK IS A GENUINE OPPORTUNITY FOR PEACE. THE SECOND POINT AND LAST POINT. IF YOU TAKE A LOOK AT THE CIRCUMSTANCE RIGHT NOW, THAT OLD EXPRESSION 'IT'S DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN,' THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WHERE THE ENEMY OF OUR ENEMY IS OUR FRIEND. YOU HAVE THE SUNNI ARAB STATES A GREAT DEAL MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE SHIA CRESCENT IN IRAN THAN THEY ARE ABOUT ISRAEL. YOU HAVE SYRIA SITTING UP THERE HAVING BEEN ISOLATED AND ISOLATED ITSELF, TETHERED TO TEHRAN, KNOWING WHEN THE REVOLUTION COME THEY'RE THE FIRST THAT ARE GOING TO BE KILLED BECAUSE THE ALLAWITES AREN'T PARTICULARLY WELL LIKED BY THE RADICALS IN IRAN. SO THEY'RE LOOKING FOR A WAY OUT. THERE IS ROOM FOR SERIOUS DIPLOMACY HERE. I CAN PICTURE BEING ABLE TO, IF THE PRESIDENT PUTS EVERYTHING INTO THIS, BEING ABLE TO GET A DEAL BETWEEN THE SYRIANS AND THE ISRALIS IN RETURN FOR CUTTING OFF HEZBOLLAH AND HAMAS, AT THE SAME TIME BUILDING UP, WHICH I'VE BEEN PROPOSING FOR FOUR YEARS WITH DICK LUGAR, BUILDING UP FATAH AND IN PARTICULAR -- THAT'S THE PARTY, THE PALESTINIAN PARTY AND HELPING THEM UNITE THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. THERE IS A FORMULA HERE. NO GUARANTEE BUT POSSIBLE. IT CAN'T BE DONE WITHOUT SINGULAR FOCUS BY AN ADMINISTRATION, REPRESENTATIVE ON THE GROUND WHO EVERYBODY KNOWS WHEN THEY SPEAK TO HIM OR HER, THEY'RE SPEAKING TO THE PRESIDENT.

Yepsen: SENATOR, TALK ABOUT IRAQ FOR A MINUTE. WHERE ARE WE NOW IN IRAQ? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN?

Biden: WE'RE AT A MOMENT OF ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY THAT I HOPE THE PRESIDENT WILL NOT SQUANDER. OUR MILITARY FORCES HAVE DONE WHAT THEY'VE BEEN ASKED TO DO. TACTICALLY THIS HAS BEEN A SUCCESS IN THAT THEY HAVE MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN REDUCING THE VIOLENCE. BUT REMEMBER -- REMEMBER WHAT THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF IT WAS, DAVID. THEY SAID WE'RE GOING TO PUT IN A SURGE TO GIVE BREATHING ROOM FOR THE POLITICAL PARTIES FOR THE WARRING FACTIONS IN THIS CIVIL WAR TO GET TOGETHER AND WORK OUT A COALITION GOVERNMENT THAT EVERYONE COULD ACCEPT. THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. THERE'S NO EVIDENCE OF ANY PROGRESS BEING MADE ON THAT SCORE. SO IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DO -- IF IT'S GOING TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN THE SACRIFICE FOR THE MILITARY TO BRING THIS SOMEWHAT OF A LULL -- A LOT OF PEOPLE STILL DYING. A LOT OF PEOPLE STILL BEING DISPLACED. IF YOU NOTICE, FOR EXAMPLE, THE BIDEN EXIT STRATEGY GOT 75 VOTES IN THE SENATE. WHAT -- YOU HEAR YESTERDAY ON THE NATIONAL NEWS PROGRAMS, GRAHAM -- LINDSEY GRAHAM, A LEADING SPOKES PERSON FOR THE REPUBLICAN SIDE SAYING, IF MALAKEY DOESN'T MOVE, HE THINKS WE SHOULD MOVE DIRECT -- INTO THE PROVINCES. I'VE BEEN ARGUING FOR THAT FOR FOUR YEARS. THAT'S PART OF THE PLAN. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY THE PRESIDENT HAS NOW. MY INSTINCT TELLS ME HE WILL NOT GRAB IT. THE TROOPS HAVE DONE THEIR JOB. THE PRESIDENT HAS NOT DONE HIS.

Yepsen: HOW SOON DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE BEFORE TROOPS COME HOME?

Biden: IT WILL TOTALLY DEPEND ON WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESIDENT INVESTS IN A FEDERAL SYSTEM IN IRAQ BRINGING IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT THAT. THEY'RE READY TO DO THAT. I'VE PERSONALLY SPOKEN WITH THE REPRESENTATIVES OF CHINA, RUSSIA, ENGLAND, FRANCE. THEY'RE READY TO DO THAT. IF HE DOESN'T CALL ON THEM, THEN ALL THE PRESIDENT IS GOING TO DO -- WHICH I THIS IS HIS PLAN. HE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO WIN AND HE DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE AND HE'S JUST GOING TO HAND THIS OFF TO THE NEXT PRESIDENT. SO I BELIEVE IF I WERE PRESIDENT TODAY, DAVE, I GIVE YOU MY WORD I BELIEVE I COULD GET OUR TROOPS HOME -- ALL OF OUR TROOPS HOME WITHIN A YEAR TO EIGHTEEN MONTHS AND LEAVE A STABLE COUNTRY BEHIND. BUT WITH THIS PRESIDENT, I DON'T GET A SENSE THERE'S ANY POLITICAL DYNAMIC HERE THAT HE KNOWS WHAT TO MOVE TO NEXT.

Glover: SENATOR, I'D LIKE TO TURN TO A RELEVANCE QUESTION IF I COULD. YOU ARE CHAIR OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. A LOT OF DEMOCRATS GOT ELECTED TO CONGRESS LAST YEAR BECAUSE OF THEIR PLEDGE TO OPPOSE THE WAR, YET CONGRESS HAS DONE NOTHING. IT CONGRESS RELEVANT IN FOREIGN POLICY THESE DAYS?

Biden: THE ONLY THING CONGRESS HAS DONE IS WHEN JOE BIDEN HAS LED IT. WHEN JOE BIDEN CAME FORWARD WITH A CLEAR PLAN REJECTING THE PRESIDENT'S POLICY, IT TOOK ME A YEAR TO GET IT DONE, I GOT 75 VOTES. EVERYTHING ELSE HAS FAILED. PART OF THE REASON IS -- THERE'S TWO REASONS WHY WE ARE NOT PARTICULARLY RELEVANT. ONE, WE DON'T HAVE THE NUMBERS. WE DON'T HAVE EFFECTIVE CONTROL OF CONGRESS. UP UNTIL TIM JOHNSON CAME BACK AFTER HIS STROKE -- UP UNTIL THAT MOMENT WE HAD 50 SENATORS TO 49 OF THE REPUBLICANS. SO, FOLKS, WE WERE IN A SITUATION WHERE WE HAVE NO EFFECTIVE CONTROL. YOU NEED 60 VOTES TO BLOCK A FILIBUSTER, AND YOU NEED 67 VOTES TO OVERRIDE A PRESIDENT. BUT WHAT'S BOTHERED ME THE MOST ABOUT US IS WE HAVE BEEN SO TIMID IN BEING WILLING TO TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE PRESIDENT ON EVERYTHING FROM EAVESDROPPING TO IRAN, TO A WHOLE RANGE OF OTHER THINGS. THAT'S WHERE I THINK WE'VE FAILED, NOT IN THAT WE FAILED WE THE OPPORTUNITY STOP THE WAR. WE DON'T HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY STOP THE WAR. WE NEED 60 VOTES TO DO THAT.

Glover: SHOULDN'T VOTERS BE JUST A LITTLE DISGRUNTLED BY WHAT THIS CONGRESS HAS NOT DONE.

Biden: YEAH, THEY SHOULD AND THEY ARE. AND THE POINT IS THEY ARE. LOOK, I MEAN EVERY TIME I SPEAK TO ANY IOWAN OUT HERE, IOWA DEMOCRATS, AND I USE THE FOLLOWING PHRASE. I SAY THE ONE THING I FIND FROM THE PHRASE USED FROM OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI, THE DEEPEST SOUTH I'VE BEEN, TO SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, TO PORTLAND, OREGON -- I MEAN, EXCUSE ME, TO PORTLAND MAINE, THAT'S A PHRASE THEY USE AND I SAY BUT ONE THING I HEAR AND YOU GUYS HEAR, THEY THINK WE'RE TOO TIMID, AND WE ARE TOO TIMID. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. WE DEMOCRATS GAVE THE PRESIDENT THE AUTHORITY -- ON THE THREAT THERE MIGHT BE A TERRORIST ATTACK IN AUGUST, WE GAVE HIM AUTHORITY TO CONTINUE HIS EAVESDROPPING PROGRAM, WHICH IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. WE WENT AHEAD AND WE HAD A CHANCE TO CLOSE DOWN ABU GHRAIB. I'M ONE OF THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO VOTED AGAINST FUNDING ABU GHRAIB AND CLOSING IT DOWN. AND HERE WE'RE ALL TALKING ABOUT -- WHEN I SAY ABU GHRAIB, I MEAN GUANTANAMO. YOU KNOW, WE HAD A CHANCE RECENTLY TO STAND UP TO THE PRESIDENT ON THIS WHOLE NOTION ABOUT DECLARING THE KUDS FOREST AND THE IRANIAN FOREST TO BE A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. LOOK WHAT IT DID. IT DID EXACTLY WHAT I PREDICTED. VOTING TO MAKE THEM A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION SENT THE SECURITY PREMIUM FOR OIL UP $20 A BARREL. NOW WHAT DO WE HAVE? NOW WE HAVE AHMADINEJAD INSTEAD OF WITH $50 BILLION TO DO BAD THINGS IN HIS POCKET, HE HAS $100 BILLION TO DO BAD THINGS.

Yepsen: SENATOR, TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SITUATION IN PAKISTAN. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF STEPPED DOWN AS HEAD OF THE ARMY. IS THIS A GOOD SIGN OR A BAD SIGN?

Biden: GOOD SIGN. BUT HERE'S THE DEAL, AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED. KIYANI, WHO IS THE GENERAL THAT IS TAKING HIS PLACE, IS A FIRST-RATE GUY. I'M ALMOST RELUCTANT TO PRAISE HIM BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HELP HIM BACK HOME. BUT KIYANI IS A SERIOUS GUY. HE'S PRO WESTERN. ONE OF THE THINGS I THINK WORKED WAS WHEN I TALKED TO MUSHARRAF -- HE CALLED ME. WHEN I TALKED TO HIM I SAID, LOOK, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, IF YOU DON'T TAKE THE UNIFORM OFF, I'M GOING TO MOVE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE TO TAKE AWAY THE THINGS THAT MOST MATTER TO YOUR MILITARY. WHAT MATTER TO THEM THE MOST ARE THESE P3 PLANES THAT ARE GOING TO -- IT ALL RELATES TO INDIA. FIGHTER JETS AND P3s, BECAUSE THEIR MILITARY -- HE DOESN'T HAVE ABSOLUTE CONTROL OF THE MILITARY. SO WHAT HAPPENED IS IN LIGHT OF THE FACT I THINK THAT HE REALIZED THAT WHAT MAY HAPPEN, NOT JUST BECAUSE OF MY COMMENTS BUT WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN, HE'S TAKEN OFF HIS UNIFORM. AND HERE'S THE KEY, IF IT COMES DOWN TO FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS IN JANUARY, IF HE KEEPS EMERGENCY RULE THAT DAY UP UNTIL THE WEEK BEFORE, IT'S A SHAM. IF HE LIFTS THE EMERGENCY RULE SHORTLY AND THERE'S ACTUALLY TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS, THEN THERE IS A PATH, A PATH. BUT YOU NEED TO DO TWO THINGS RIGHT AFTER THAT. YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PAKISTANI POLICY. THAT'S WHY I LAID OUT IN DETAIL WHAT I WOULD DO. I WOULD CONSIDERABLY INCREASE THE ECONOMIC AID FOR EDUCATION AND THE LIKE FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE MIDDLE OF THE PAKISTANIS, AND I WOULD MOVE AND CHANGE MY POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN TO EMBOLDEN THEM TO DO MORE. IT'S A THREE-PIECE DEAL, I THINK.

Glover: YOU MENTIONED THE MILITARY. I'D LIKE YOU TO TAKE A LOOK AT OUR MILITARY. THERE'S A TRUISM THAT THE MILITARY IS IN SOMEWHAT OF A STATE OF DISREPAIR. GIVE ME YOUR ASSESSMENT OF HOW BAD THAT DISREPAIR IS, AND IS IT AT THE POINT WHERE IT'S BEGINNING TO AFFECT OUR CREDIBILITY AS A DETERRENT AROUND THE WORLD?

Biden: I THINK OUR CREDIBILITY IS ALREADY DETERRED -- I MEAN IN BAD SHAPE. THIS PRESIDENT HAS MADE US WEAKER THAN ANY PRESIDENT IN OUR RECENT HISTORY. WHY? WE HAVE 12 DIVISIONS, 10 OF WHICH ARE COMING OR GOING TO IRAQ. DO YOU THINK ANYBODY IN IRAN THINKS WE'RE GOING TO INVADE IRAN WITH FORCES, WITH TROOPS? THEY WORRY ABOUT US BOMBING. DO YOU THINK THEY THINK THAT? DO YOU THINK ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THINKS WE HAVE TROOPS? FOR EXAMPLE IN DARTFORD, WE'RE TRYING TO GET HELICOPTERS TO GET 26,000 U.N. FORCES IN THERE. WE DON'T HAVE THE HELICOPTERS FOR THEM. SO IT HAS DONE SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO US, NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO, IT'S ALSO DAMAGED THE NATIONAL GUARD. VERY FEW STATES HAVE MADE THE SACRIFICE YOUR STATE HAS MADE IN TERMS OF THE NATIONAL GUARD. BUT EVERYBODY VIEWS IT IN TERMS OF AS THEY SHOULD, LOSS OF LIFE AND INJURY, BUT IT'S ALSO LOSS OF EQUIPMENT. THE NATIONAL GUARDS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ARE A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS SHORT ON THE EQUIPMENT THEY'VE LOST OR LEFT IN IRAQ.

Borg: MIKE'S QUESTION IS WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE RELATIVELY WEAKNESS --

Biden: THE CONSEQUENCES ARE I THINK THAT YOU FIND THAT THERE IS GOING TO BE OTHER NATIONS FROM THE CHINESE TO THE NORTH KOREANS -- THE CHINESE AREN'T GOING TO GO TO WAR -- BUT THE CHINESE OR THE NORTH KOREANS TO THE PAKISTANIS AND OTHERS ARE LOOKING AND SAYING WAIT A MINUTE, WHAT ASSETS DOES THIS COUNTRY HAVE TO BRING TO BEAR, TO HELP ME, OR TO HURT ME. AND THE ASSETS, THE ONLY ONES THEY HAVE, THEY STILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO BLOW THE WORLD UP. THEY STILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO CONTROL THE SEAS AND THE AIR LANES, BUT DO THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO BE ON THE GROUND TO EFFECT OUTCOMES? AND I THINK THE ANSWER IS THEY THINK WE DON'T.

Yepsen: SENATOR, YOU MENTIONED IRAN. IF YOU WERE PRESIDENT, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR APPROACH TO IRAN?

Biden: MY APPROACH TO IRAN WOULD BE TO TIGHTEN DOWN THE SCREWS BY INCREASING COOPERATION WITH CHINA, RUSSIA, AND THE EUROPEAN THREE. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, AS I SAID, HERE'S THE DEAL, YOU'VE GOT A PROBLEM HERE WHERE IRAN IS A FAIRLY WEAKENED STATE. WE MAKE IRAN OUT TO BE 12 FOOT TALL. IRAN HAS IMPORTING 60 PERCENT OF THE REFINED OIL. IRAN -- THEIR CAPITAL MARKETS HAVE BEEN IMPLODED BECAUSE WE'VE DONE A GOOD JOB OF SAYING TO THE BANKS OF THE WORLD, IF YOU TRADE WITH IRAN AND YOU LIVE WITH IRAN, YOU'VE GOT A PROBLEM WITH US. AND BECAUSE WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP THE COOPERATION OF INDIA -- EXCUSE ME, CHINA, RUSSIA, WHO ARE WORRIED ABOUT IT AS WELL, AS THE EUROPEAN THREE. WHEN WE JUST START RATTLING THE SABER AND START TALKING ABOUT WORLD WAR III, WHEN WE START TALKING ABOUT DECLARING THEIR MILITARY A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, THEN YOU GET THE EUROPEANS STEPPING BACK, YOU'VE GOT THE CHINESE STEPPING BACK, YOU'VE GOT THE RUSSIANS STEPPING BACK. THEN WE'RE LEFT WITH NO OPTIONS DOWN THE ROAD BUT MILITARY OPTIONS. BUT WE HAVE THE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS OPTION, AND IF WE CONTINUE TO TURN THE SCREWS IN UNISON WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD, THERE STILL ARE 70 PERCENT OF THE IRANIANS WHO ARE IN FACT MIDDLE CLASS AND MODERATE. AND YOU HAVE, IF YOU NOTICE, A SPLIT BETWEEN AHMADINEJAD NOW AND THE THEOCRACY, AND THEY'RE THINKING THIS GUY IS GETTING THIS OUT TOO FAR. BUT TO THE EXTENT THAT WE RATTLE THE SABER, WHAT DO WE DO? WE HIDE AHMADINEJAD'S SINS. WE INCREASE THEIR ABILITY TO HAVE ACCESS TO DOLLARS BECAUSE PUMPING THE SAME OIL, THEY GET TWICE AS MUCH MONEY, AND WE MOVE OUR ALLIES AWAY FROM US.

Glover: I'D LIKE TO DO ANOTHER BALANCING ACT, AND THAT'S ON TRADE, IN THESE TRADE AGREEMENTS LIKE NAFTA. YOU HEAR A LOT OF CONCERN ABOUT SHIPPING JOBS OVERSEAS. LABOR DOESN'T LIKE. A LOT OF MIDDLE-CLASS WORKERS DON'T LIKE IT. A LOT OF PLACES LIKE NEWTON, IOWA, DON'T LIKE IT. AND YET THIS IS A STATE THAT'S DEPENDENT ON TRADE. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT?

Biden: YOU BALANCE THAT BY ENFORCING TRADE AGREEMENTS. LET ME GIVE YOU ONE EXAMPLE. THINK ABOUT WHAT WE'RE DOING RIGHT NOW WITH CHINA. IMAGINE IF THOSE TOYS YOU'RE TRYING TO FIND FOR YOUR GRANDKIDS AND KIDS THAT ARE LEAD-BASED PAINT OR HAVE GHB LACED WITH THEM -- LACED WITH GHB. IMAGINE IF THEY WERE COMING FROM FRANCE, AN ALLIE. IMAGINE IF THEY WERE COMING FROM, YOU KNOW, MOROCCO. WE'D HAVE SHUT IT DOWN UNDER THE WTO RULES IMMEDIATELY. WHAT DID WE DO? NOTHING WITH CHINA. NOTHING. WHY DON'T WE DO IT? BECAUSE SO MANY CORPORATIONS ARE INVESTED. THEY HAVE MOVED THEIR CAPITAL INVESTMENT TO CHINA. SO MATELL, AMERICAN COMPANY, QUOTE-UNQUOTE, THESE OTHER TOY MANUFACTURERS, THEY'RE GOING TO GET HURT. THEY GET HURT IF WE ACT. BUT GUESS WHAT, IN THE MEANTIME THE AMERICAN PUBLIC GETS HURT AND THE AMERICAN ECONOMY GETS HURT. THAT'S JUST ONE EXAMPLE. WHAT WE DON'T DO IS WE DON'T ENFORCE EXISTING AGREEMENTS.

Glover: WHY?

Biden: BECAUSE OF THE CORPORATE INVESTMENT IN THE COUNTRIES IN WHICH WE ARE HAVING TO ENFORCE THOSE AGREEMENTS. AMERICAN CORPORATIONS, QUOTE-UNQUOTE, MULTINATIONAL AMERICAN CORPORATIONS INVESTING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN A MARKETPLACE THAT THEY HAVE ACCESS TO, BECAUSE THERE'S A BILLION PEOPLE OVER THERE. AND WHEN WE DECIDE THAT WE'RE GOING TO DEAL WITH CHINA IN A WAY THAT IS FAIR TRADE, WHAT HAPPENS? THEY LOSE MARKET. THEY LOSE SHARE. THEY GET PENALIZED. SO WE'RE LOOKING TO THE CORPORATIONS INSTEAD OF THE COUNTRY. AND, YOU KNOW, I'M NOT A BIG POPULIST GUY.

Borg: AS CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, DOES THE RELATIVE WEAKNESS OF THE U.S. DOLLAR FIGURE INTO KEEPING YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT IN OUR PROJECTION OF INFLUENCE?

Biden: ABSOLUTELY IT DOES. LOOK AT WHY THE U.S. DOLLAR HAS BEEN WEAKENED SO MUCH. IT'S A COMBINATION OF OUR OIL DEPENDENCE, A COMBINATION OF OUR HAVING OUR DEBT FINANCED BY FOREIGN NATIONS. YOU KNOW, WE'VE ACCUMULATED MORE DEBT FROM 1789 TO 2001. ALL THE DEBT WE ACCUMULATED IS NOT AS LARGE AS THE DEBT WE'VE ACCUMULATED TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES FROM 2002 TO TODAY. WHEN YOU OWE A TRILLION DOLLARS, GUESS WHAT, THEY CAN THREATEN -- THEY CAN THREATEN TO DECIDE THEY'RE GOING TO GO TO EUROS. THEY CAN THREATEN TO DECIDE TO -- AND WE HAVE NO INFLUENCE ON THEIR CURRENCY EXCHANGE.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE GOT VERY LITTLE TIME LEFT. WE'D BE REMISS IF WE DIDN'T ASK ABOUT RUSSIA? WHAT SHOULD THE UNITED STATES APPROACH TO RUSSIA BE NOW?

Biden: THE UNITED STATES APPROACH TO RUSSIA HAS TO GO THROUGH EUROPE. WE HAVE LOST OUR CREDIBILITY WITH NATO. I MET WITH -- LITERALLY, I JUST SPOKE TO THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES OR THE IOWA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES. A GERMAN REPORTER REPRESENTING ONE OF THE LARGEST -- I FORGET WHICH PAPER FROM GERMANY -- SAID, SENATOR, YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE THAT SEEMS TO TALK A LOT ABOUT NATO. I SAID LOOK AT YOUR COUNTRY, GERMANY. YOU'RE BEING HELD HOSTAGE BY RUSSIA WITH GAS PIPELINES. YOU HAVE -- HE PUT HIS HEAD DOWN. AND I SAID WHY. BECAUSE THERE'S NO UNIFORM POSITION BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND NATO PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE MULTIPLE POINTS WE CAN PUT PRESSURE ON PUTIN TO ACT MORE RESPONSIBLY. WHAT'S HAPPENED? NOBODY IS WILLING TO PLAY WITH US. NOBODY IS WILLING TO FOLLOW OUR LEAD. LITERALLY, WE HAVE VIRTUALLY NO CREDIBILITY IN EUROPE RELATIVE TO HOW TO DEAL WITH PUTIN. I WOULD RECONSTRUCT QUICKLY THAT RELATIONSHIP. THE ONLY WAY TO PUT PRESSURE ON PUTIN IS THROUGH A UNITED EUROPEAN ATLANTIC ALLIANCE BECAUSE THERE'S SO MUCH PUTIN NEEDS IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO FLOURISH. BUT HE'S FLOATING IN A SEA OF OIL DOLLARS NOW.

Glover: WE'VE GOT ABOUT A MINUTE TO GO. I'D LIKE YOU TO BLEND TWO PARTS OF THIS SHOW SO FAR, THE POLITICS AND THE POLICY. IN ABOUT A MONTH, IOWA DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO BE WALKING INTO PRECINCT CAUCUSES ALL OVER THIS STATE. WHEN THEY THINK ABOUT JOE BIDEN, WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM THINKING?

Biden: ACTION, EXPERIENCE, AND CHANGE. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS I'M THE ONLY ONE RUNNING WHO HAS A GRASP OF THESE ISSUES THAT I CAN ACT IMMEDIATELY UPON BEING ELECTED PRESIDENT, AS WELL AS I HAVE CRAFTED AND HAVE SUCCEEDED IN ATTRACTING REPUBLICANS THROUGHOUT MY CAREER TO PRAGMATIC SOLUTIONS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE NEITHER LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE. THEY ARE ULTIMATELY PRAGMATIC. AND IF YOU LOOK AT MY ANSWERS ON HEALTH CARE TO CRIME, THEY'RE PRAGMATIC, DIGESTIBLE, UNDERSTANDABLE, AND WORKABLE. AND I SAY TO IOWANS, ASK THE QUESTION: DO YOU THINK YOU CAN PASS ANY OF THESE THINGS WE CARE ABOUT, HEALTH CARE OR THE REST, WITHOUT 15 PERCENT OF THE REPUBLICANS VOTING FOR IT, AND WHO CAN GET IT DONE?

Borg: THANK YOU, SENATOR BIDEN FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TONIGHT.

Biden: THANK YOU.

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'RE CONVENING IOWA POLITICAL REPORTERS FOR AN UNDATE ON THE FAST CHANGING CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES IN THESE FINAL WEEKS BEFORE THE IOWA CAUCUSES. YOU'LL BE GETTING INSIGHT FROM REPORTERS TRAVELLING THE CAMPAIGN TRAILS AT OUR USUAL 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 NEXT FRIDAY NIGHT; REBROADCAST 11;30 SUNDAY MORNING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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