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Biden, the Dems' best closer? NY-23 thinks so. Sarah Palin not so much.

November 4, 2009 |  8:31 am

The day before the election, Vice President Joe Biden was in Watertown, N.Y., a rural town in a community of military families in an upstate New York congressional district that had been in Republican hands since the 19th century.

Campaigning for Democrat Bill Owens just as polls showed his opponent, conservative Doug Hoffman, surging with momentum, Biden turned the election into a referendum on the right-wing agenda of the Bush administration, policies he said "brought this country to its economic knees."

Singling out former Vice President Dick Cheney and conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Biden criticized Republicans for deserting their own candidate in the race. State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, was forced to withdraw after the Tea Party activists derailed her as too moderate. He even took a shot at former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for her "simple" view that energy problems could be solved with a simple chant of "drill, baby, drill."

By contrast, Biden said, Owens was a "pragmatic and tough" candidate who is strong on national defense and tax relief. "They may not have more room for moderate views in upstate New York, but we have room, we have room," the vice president said.

He told the crowd, many Republicans who had backed Scozzafava, “We’re not asking you to switch your party. We’re just saying, join us in teaching a lesson to absolutists who come and tell us that no dissent is permitted within their own party.”

Voters did just that, giving Owens a 49%-45% victory over Hoffman. But Palin, who backed Hoffman over Scozzafava, predicted that Republicans would recapture the seat in 2010.

"The race for New York's 23rd District is not over, just postponed until 2010," she wrote on her Facebook page. "The issues of this election have always centered on the economy -- on the need for fiscal restraint, smaller government and policies that encourage jobs. In 2010, these issues will be even more crucial to the electorate."

-- Johanna Neuman

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