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VP candidate kept from media and no crowd questions. Not Palin. It's Biden!

October 24, 2008 | 12:00 pm

Is it possible we've been living in a bubble for the last several weeks, not noticing a complete role reversal between the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, and his Republican counterpart, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska?

The always astute Jake Tapper over at ABC makes a shocking point:

Now, Palin, who was once so sequestered from the media it allowed her opponents to caricature her and helped create "Free Sarah Palin" buttons, is meeting with more and more national reporters and, unreported by them, numerous local media types at virtually every campaign stop.

Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Democratic Senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden of Delaware

There's an interview with the Chicago Tribune today, reported here in The Ticket and on CNN earlier this week. She walks back and chats with reporters on her campaign plane.

And, contrary to the silent fears of the McCain controllers, she's doing just fine.

But Biden is something else entirely. We've got Joe the Plumber and Joe Six-Pack. But Joe Delaware-by-way-of-Scranton has gone missing.

Obama officials will deny it. But he's clearly been muzzled by the Democratic campaign that's for real change.

The old veteran, who's been in the Senate since Obama was a kid and was hired as No. 2 for the foreign affairs cover he gives the freshman Illinois senator, has put his foot in his Delaware mouth a few too many times for the Windy City campaign chieftains.

Tapper points out, amazingly, that Biden has not taken questions from his crowds of supporters since Sept. 10. That's before some of us learned Tampa Bay has a baseball team.

That date just happens to be when, you may recall (but here's the Ticket item to refresh your memory) Biden so famously ruminated aloud on-stage that Hillary Clinton might have made a better VP pick than him. (See and watch the curious video by clicking on the "Read more" line below.)

Something Palin promptly agreed on with him.

But that's not what the cocky White Sox fan wanted to hear, in part because in terms of....

...Democratic votes anyway, Biden's probably right. Look how well he did during the Democratic primaries. Sure wasn't an 18 million-vote-getter.

And Biden has not held a press availability since Sept. 7, three days before that gaffe, on his plane en route to Big Sky Country.

That means for almost seven of the eight weeks between the Republican convention and the Nov. 4 election Biden's been gagged to the media. How much of a plus can this guy be to the over-funded Obama campaign if he's forbidden from chatting up even his own media crowd?

And if he's so ready to become president in a skipped heartbeat, what conceivable crowd questions are so scary they've, in effect, been forbidden? Besides "Do you think Hillary Clinton should have won?"

Politicians don't usually go missing like that until after they've become vice presidents.

Even Ron Paul and Countrywide Dodd from Connecticut took more questions.

But Biden still manages to get in verbal trouble, even when he's talking in supposedly closed fundraisers. (Hello, presidential campaign whose candidate described bitter small-town people clinging to faith and guns to just such a crowd himself at considerable cost to him in Pennsylvania.)

Biden in Seattle last weekend predicted -- guaranteed -- that America's enemies would test this recent former state senator within six months of Inauguration Day. A valid, historically accurate point that Palin, John McCain and their surrogates are only too happy to repeat to crowd after crowd.

Tapper notes, fairly, that a Biden spokesman (is that job really necessary under the circumstances?) disagrees with that assessment. But then the political veteran adds: "in terms of general availability to their traveling press corps, Biden's and Palin's roles are switching."

Does anybody seriously think that if the trend was going the other way, we would not have heard by now endless accounts of her hiding?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credits: Mark Lyons / Getty Images (Palin) and Mark Duncan / Associated Press (Biden)

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