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Published: 9/16/2008

Biden makes first solo visit into Michigan

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FLAT ROCK, Mich. U.S. Sen. Joe Biden came out swinging in his first solo appearances on the campaign trail in Michigan yesterday.

In visits to Flat Rock and the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores, Mr. Biden hammered an economic theme telling voters that Republicans are responsible for the abysmal state of the economy and if elected, Sen. John McCain will bring more of the same.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 500 points yesterday in its worst point drop since the Sept., 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Referring to a remark by the Republican presidential candidate that the country s economy was fundamentally strong, Mr. Biden said Mr. McCain was woefully out of touch.

I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn t run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain, Mr. Biden said.

The senator from Delaware spoke at South Lake High School in St. Clair Shores in the morning, followed by an evening appearance at Flat Rock Community School in Flat Rock.

It was the Democratic vice presidential candidate s first solo trip to Michigan as Sen. Barack Obama s running mate, according to the campaign.

He was last in the state at a rally in Battle Creek that was part of the Democrats post-convention bus tour. Senator Obama was in Flint and Farmington Hills Sept. 8.

Mr. Biden will speak at an outdoor appearance at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Toledo suburb of Maumee at the 100 block of West Wayne St. The event is open to the public and tickets are not required, according to the campaign, though admittance will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Yesterday, the senator also attacked Mr. McCain s image as a reformer and maverick Republican, comparing him to President Bush.

Eight years ago, a man ran for president who claimed he was different, not a typical Republican, Mr. Biden said. He called himself a reformer. He admitted that his party, the Republican Party, had been wrong about things from time to time. He promised to work with Democrats and said he d been doing that for a long time. That candidate was George W. Bush.

Saying Mr. McCain is promising now what Mr. Bush promised eight years ago, Mr. Biden said, We ve seen this movie before, folks. But as everyone knows, the sequel is always worse than the original, to great applause from the crowd.

The senator also decried the McCain campaign s attacks, which he said was, launching a low blow a day.

Mr. Biden said with 50 days left until the Nov. 4, election, it was time for people to get up.

My father always told me, Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up. It s time to get up.

In Flat Rock, people chanted Joe, Joe, Joe, while waiting for the senator to speak. And the crowd cheered when Barbara Theaker, a local supporter of the Obama-Biden ticket, introduced Mr. Biden as different from a bucket of fluff, referring to his Republican counterpart, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The economic message the senator brought resonated with many in the crowd.

My paycheck doesn t seem to go as far [as it used to], said Charles Wasil, a firefighter who lives in St. Clair Shores. I m worried about my kids future.

Stanley Kokuba, also a St. Clair Shores resident and who described himself as a stalwart Democrat, World War II veteran, and retired union plumber, agreed. Mainly, it s the economy, he said. We re bankrupt in this country. This is the worst I ve ever seen it.

Nick Surma, Jr., of Flat Rock said he has been unemployed since April, making Mr. Biden s economic message very real for him. He said he liked how Mr. Biden spoke to stick up for the middle class.

A small group of McCain supporters stood near the entrance of the Flat Rock event, holding signs such as Michigan loves McCain.

Megan Piwowar, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party, said the group was not protesting Mr. Biden s appearance, but engaged in a positive sign wave to peacefully support Senator McCain.

Michigan is a key battleground state, she said. We just want to remind the voters that [their] vote is nationally significant.

Contact Kate Giammarise at:kgiammarise@theblade.comor 419-724-6133.



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