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Joe Biden takes note of Sarah Palin's sheltering from the media

September 18, 2008 |  4:55 pm

Joe Biden made news earlier today -- likely in a way that caused Democratic strategists to cringe -- when he said that the wealthier Americans who would pay more under Barack Obama's tax plan should feel "patriotic" about doing so.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden holds forth at a rally in OhioAt a union hall rally this afternoon in Akron, Ohio, Biden sought to make a virtue of his accessibilty -- even if it results in the occasional gaffe.

The Times' Faye Fiore is covering Biden and she relates that after he mentioned the tax question he had been asked on "Good Morning America," he said, "I’ve done a lot of press, I’ve done, I don’t know, I was told I did 68, 70 press conferences."

Then he recounted being asked by a reporter what he thought of Sarah Palin. "When she does three, I'll let you know," he quoted himself as saying.

That means the political world will have to wait for one more tete-a-tete between Palin and a journalist. Since John McCain picked her as his running mate, she's done two sets of interviews -- with ABC's Charlie Gibson that aired last week and with Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity, which wraps up tonight (previews of what she has to say can be perused here and here).

Biden, as is his wont, warmed to his subject after his comment about Palin, saying: "I don’t know! I don’t have any idea! I don’t know! I don’t know!"

With his crowd rising to its feet, he broadened his riff to include McCain.

"You know, I mean, look, and it’s not, look guys, it’s not just Sarah Palin," he said. "When’s the last time John, when’s the last time John’s had a press conference? I’m serious.”

McCain, once perhaps the most accessible of national politicians to reporters, has changed that policy as the presidential campaign has progressed. The Democratic National Committee, in turn, this week started a "McCain Press Watch," which clocks ...

... the time elapsed since the Republican last took reporter questions.

By the same token, lack of accessibility to the candidate has been an ongoing complaint among those covering Obama.

Biden, continuing a rare day in which figured prominently in the political back-and-forth, stood by his "patriotic" remark during an interview with Katie Couric of CBS.

Asked about the barbs directed at him over it by Palin and McCain, noted that the latter had opposed the sweeping tax cuts President Bush pushed into law in 2001 precisely because it benefited the wealthy (McCain famously has since retreated from that position).

"Give me a break," Biden told Couric. "I remind my friend John McCain what he said. When Bush called for war and tax cuts he said, quote, 'It is immoral, immoral to take a nation to war and not have anybody pay for it.'

"I am so sick and tired of this phoniness.  The truth of the matter is that we are in trouble, and the people who do not need a new tax cut should be willing as patriotic Americans to understand the way to get this economy back up on their feet is to give middle-class taxpayers a break. We take the tax cut they're getting and we give it to the middle class."

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press