By Nick Stoico, Executive Editor
CONCORD — Vice President Joe Biden visited the University of New Hampshire Law School in Concord Wednesday morning and backed policies implemented by the Obama administration. Biden, who expressed interest in running for president in 2016 back in December, discussed the upcoming election just once—on the topic of campaign finance.
“Going forward, we need a different way,” the vice president said after citing the 2012 presidential race, which racked up more than $2 billion spent between the Obama and Romney camps.
Biden recently made visits in Iowa and South Carolina before arriving in the Granite State, giving pundits plenty of reason to speculate Biden could be a likely opponent for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary.
Clinton has not officially declared her candidacy, either.
From the Affordable Care Act to the bailout of the automotive industry in 2009, Biden touched on and defended almost every hot-button policy decision made by the administration since taking office.
Biden’s words attempted to polish the legacy of the Obama Administration and perhaps plant the seeds for a run at the nomination when New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary arrives in 2016.
Each of his talking points encompassed his main message of the morning: The administration carried the country out of its worst recession since the Great Depression and strengthened the middle class.
“We’re on the verge of resurgence, if we’re wise,” Biden said.
He later added, “All we have to do is give the middle class a fighting chance. It’s not hyperbole, folks, it’s just fact. When the middle class does well, everybody does well. And the (lower class) has a chance to move up.”
Biden was invited to Concord to receive the Warren B. Rudman Award for Distinguished Public Service, named after the two-term Republican Senator from New Hampshire. Biden spent the first portion of his discussion remembering Rudman, whom he served with in the U.S. Senate from 1980 to 1993.
“Warren Rudman was a man of incredible integrity and intense loyalty,” said Biden, who was first elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1973 and served until 2009 when he joined President Barack Obama in the White House.
“Think about what the Senate would look like if Warren Rudman were in the U.S. Senate. Think about how the tone of the Senate would be different.
“Warren believed government was supposed to work,” Biden added, alluding to the gridlock in Washington that has brought on heavy criticism from Americans voters. “You need to establish consensus. For most of my 26 years in the Senate, that’s how it worked.”
But Biden remained optimistic that the system would be corrected.
“I’m confident this period will pass,” he said. “I am confident because the people demand it … When our government doesn’t work, it’s not the politicians who get hurt — it’s the American people.”
On the topic of health care, Biden called it “a right for every American.” He then cited a figure that 87 percent of people in the health care marketplace are happy with their coverage.
Following his speech, Biden fielded questions from UNH Law students. The three questions Biden answered concerned how science will shape future policy decisions, education and the job market, and the moral fundamentals of public service.
The role of community colleges has been a national talking point in recent weeks after the president suggested making community colleges free.
Biden spoke to this and other areas of higher education briefly, saying that he would like to see community colleges be able to do three things: provide certifications, be transferable to four-year college programs and provide continued financial aid.
“Universities also need to keep the cost down,” he said.
Regarding science and policy decisions, Biden quickly jumped into climate change.
“We still have climate deniers, not many, but we still do,” Biden said. “A lot of people are getting hurt at the cost of climate change.”
Biden even mentioned the Koch brothers, known for their conservative political interests, calling them “good guys” but said they are deniers because so much money is tied up in fossil fuels.
One law student asked the vice president what the most important skill is to cultivate before taking on a career in public service.
“Having an open mind,” Biden said. “Being willing to listen to another point of view.
“Don’t question motive,” he added. “It is the most corrosive thing to occur in my years of service. It is never appropriate to challenge (another’s) motive, because you don’t know their motive.”
Following his visit to UNH Law, Biden traveled south to Manchester Community College. Before heading to MCC, he stopped for lunch at the Works Bakery and Café in Concord.
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