“Five hundred billion dollars (of the Bush tax cuts) went to a little over a thousand families,” Joe Biden told us last night. (More)

Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Al Franken, and Congressman Tim Walz came to my hometown Tuesday.

Because I had managed to get VIP tickets, I got to stand at the front of the room behind the barricade. I was only ten feet from the podium. Here is a photo of the hall before the event:

Hallphoto

Senator Franken and Rep. Walz spoke first.

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Each man spoke about the challenge of our time, not that of winning elections, but about transforming our country in positive ways. They spoke about the positive benefits of the Affordable Care Act, equal rights for gays and women, fair wages and fair taxes, and how much had been done to help students afford college, and how much money would be saved for Medicare to keep it solvent. Each man spoke from personal experience and with the passion one hopes every elected official feels. But most telling were Biden’s remarks.

Bidenphoto

He spoke about the dignity of a job, about how his father had to make the “long walk” to tell his family that he had lost his job, and would have to look for work more than a hundred miles away, and how they’d maybe see him on weekends. He talked about how no-one should have their dignity taken from them because they were out of work. No one should have to make a “long walk” to tell their children they couldn’t go to college, or couldn’t stay in the house anymore because the family had lost it. He said we all know someone who has. We all know someone who has lain awake at night worrying, who is devastated by the economic collapse.

When he spoke about the Republican “plan” for America, he laid in stark terms what their plan was: “Bush on steroids.” He talked about how the middle class would pay if Romney-Ryan were elected, and about how Romney has already said he in his first hundred days he’d roll back everything the Democrats had achieved. He spoke about the inequality of wealth distribution, and he talked about how the middle class had lost 17 billion dollars in equity in 401Ks and homes during the crash. He talked about how the Republicans were talking about the middle class again, as if they had “just discovered them.” He said the Republican’s like to talk about “values.” He said, “don’t tell me your values, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” And he talked about how the Republicans were behaving as if there were two competing governments, locked in struggle. It was an eye opening insight.

Finally, he said that in all the time that he has worked with President Obama, not once has Obama asked him, or any of his advisors: “What are the politics of this? How with this affect my chances of being re-elected?”

Obama he said, is a man driven by conviction, someone who believes in all of the ideals that Democrats hold to, and worthy of re-election.

I agree, and I will keep working to make that happen.