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Democrat Joe Biden said Tuesday's election is more important than the one two years ago that made him vice president because it will determine whether the nation's fragile economic recovery will continue.
"Had we lost, we could have come through another two years and it would have been so overwhelmingly clear to the American people who was responsible for all of this," he told a crowd in suburban Boston, referring to the Republican Party.
"If they win this election, we are going to see a stalemate for the next two years. And their only focus is going to be about winning back the White House," he said. "But ladies and gentlemen, it means that this will all be put on hold. We're going to have to start back up all over again when we've finally begun to turn the ship of state around."
Wearing a sport coat but no tie for an outdoor rally in crisp New England weather, Biden make a quick stop in Massachusetts to campaign for William Keating in the 10th Congressional District race. The local district attorney is in a close race with Republican Jeff Perry, who the national GOP sees as the party's best chance for winning one of the state's 10 congressional races next week.
Many political analysts project Republicans will recapture the House if not the Senate in the midterm balloting, but Biden predicted they would be wrong. A loss would imperil the legislative agenda embraced by him and President Obama.
"I have been in over 109 races now, and I want to tell you, we are going to maintain the Senate, we are going to have a majority in the House, and Bill Keating's going to be part of that majority," Biden said.
A relatively small crowd challenged that assumption. As Keating attended the rally in the blue-collar community of Quincy, a reliable Democratic community, Perry campaigned across Cape Cod, his home turf. The 10th district extends in a crescent from south of Boston, across Cape Cod, and over to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
It's the same district where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the late liberal Democrat, used to vote - making it a potential trophy pickup for the GOP.
Biden referred to Perry several times by name, once when he complained about Republicans bemoaning deficit spending despite the last three party presidents building sizable deficits while serving in the White House.
"The next time a Republican talks to you about fiscal responsibility, tell them, `Forgive me if I laugh in your face,"' the vice president said. "It's bizarre. They have no credibility."
Keating has railed against Perry, a state representative, for failing to stop a fellow officer accused of illegally strip-searching a teenager while they were both members of the Wareham Police Department. Perry has said he didn't observe any illegal activity, but the then-14-year-old victim in one case said it would have been impossible for him not to hear her screams.
"You know I have talked a lot about character and trust in this campaign because I believe that integrity matters," Keating said. "And I believe that honesty matters. And I believe that in Washington, we need more leaders who have the right ideas and the character to follow them through."
Biden and Keating were introduced by Kennedy's widow, Vicki, and Rep. William Delahunt, the Quincy Democrat who currently holds the 10th District seat.
Kennedy paid tribute to the vice president, who served with her husband for decades.
"My husband, Ted, and Joe were the closest of friends in the Senate," she said. "And the bonds they shared were based on their fundamental love of people and their bedrock belief that each of us can make a difference and all of us should try."
Delahunt turned serious after joking that he had become more popular in retirement than beforehand, receiving numerous awards and honors.
"I want you to honor me and everything that I have stood for, and everything that I believe in, by electing my friend, a great district attorney, Bill Keating," Delahunt said. "That is the way to send me off into the sunset."
This program aired on October 30, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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