Joe Biden stumped for Boxer in Atherton

…and I’ve just filed my story, which should be hitting the websites soon. But before I leave this comfy suburb and head up to join the riot coverage in Oakland, I’ll post here the pool report I sent to the White House press folks: way more detail than would fit in the paper, and perhaps more than most people want to know.

As the story notes, the campaign of Republican senatorial nominee and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina issued a statement earlier today saying Boxer and Biden are stumping on an economic stimulus package that has failed to deliver enough jobs for California.

“Either way, the fact that Biden is in California raising money for Boxer tonight represents the Obama administration’s increasing concern for her political future,” Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said, citing new Field Poll numbers that show Boxer leading Fiorina by three percentage points, within the poll’s margin of error. “But the Washington Buddy System is alive and well, and that means career politicians like Barbara Boxer and Joe Biden will do whatever it takes to extend their political careers, even if it means taking liberties with the facts while our fellow Americans struggle with the reality of a dismal economy and an economic stimulus plan that doesn’t deliver.”

Not so, say the Vice President and the Senator. Read it, after the jump…

The Vice President arrived shortly before 6 p.m. at the Atherton home of attorney and venture capitalist John Freidenrich and his wife, Jill Clumeck Freidenrich, who’ve been longtime, big-ticket donors to Democratic causes as well as to Stanford University.

About 200 people who’d paid a minimum of $250 each to enter had been mingling in the expansive backyard since about 4 p.m., listening to Oscar- and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Aimee Mann while sipping fresh mint and ginger lemonade and snacking on passed hors d’oeuvres including pastry half moons with sautéed greens, garlic and mozzarella cheese; tiny tartlets with tomatoes, basil, calamata olives and Emmentaler cheese; crumb-crusted chicken bites with ginger, honey and mustard dip; phyllo packets filled with turkey sausage, wilted greens, mushrooms, white wine, fresh herbs and parmesan; beef tenderloin and artichoke-tarragon purée on toasted rye rounds; tiny crisp pastry cups filled with a salad of Maine lobster, tomato, cucumber and fresh herbs; cherry tomatoes stuffed with bacon, lettuce and green onion; and snow peas piped with fresh herbed cream cheese.

About two dozen supporters of Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina stood across the street, waving signs and chanting throughout the event, barely audible but not visible from the back patio.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., spoke first for about 14 and a half minutes. She thanked everyone for being there and giving generously, noting some familiar faces and saying “the way you keep a winning streak” – by keeping your old allies loyal while adding new ones every day.

“It’s going to be a very tough campaign because truth doesn’t enter into the vocabulary of my opponent very often,” Boxer said, adding she’ll continue fighting for California jobs. “The question in this race is, ‘Who’s on the side of California families, it’s as simple as that, and I don’t have to tell you, I don’t have to tell the Vice President, these are very tough times for California.”

“My name is Boxer, I’m a fighter, you’re fighters and we’re fighting back as of now,” she said, praising Biden for his support of federal funding for police and a variety of other Recovery Act spending benefiting local communities.

She said you can tell a lot about people by who support them, noting President Barack Obama has come out twice to raise funds for her while her Republican opponent, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, is endorsed by former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin; booing ensued from the crowd.

At this point, one of the stanchions along the rope line fell, and the Vice President stepped forward to pick it up and then move the rope line closer to the podium so more of the audience could move out of the sun. “Sorry, Secret Service,” he said.

Boxer continued that Palin’s endorsement of Fiorina marks their shared “drill, baby, drill” attitude while she and other West Coast senators are united in supporting a bill to ban offshore drilling along their states.

Fiorina runs on her record at HP, but “what she doesn’t say is she was fired from that job” and that she laid off 30,000 workers, sending many of those jobs overseas. Fiorina said she cut back her company just like any family would cut back in hard times, Boxer noted, but “when’s the last time you sent your kid to China?” and then “cashed in his savings bonds,” referring to Fiorina’s tripled pay during her HP tenure.

“I know California at the end of the day will choose a fighter who is on its side” on issues such as abortion choice, environmental protection and sensible gun laws, Boxer said, describing her race as “the clearest choice in the nation, that’s what this is all about.”

“When my opponents protestors say, ‘Where are the jobs?’, I’ve got working people in hard hats saying, ‘Here I am!,” Boxer said, in large part due to the Recovery Act that Biden helped champion.

“Ditto,” began the Vice President, before expanding on that sentiment for about 38 and a half minutes.

“I never say anything I don’t mean, I sometimes say more than I should,” he said. “Straight up, let me tell you why I love this woman.”
“She hasn’t changed, she has the same passion, the same sense of ‘there’s nothing we can’t do,’ the same commitment as the day I met her.”

Boxer’s strength is that her policy stances start from her gut and heart before meeting her intellectual rigor. People like that “don’t run – they don’t, when things get tough, step back… Barbara tastes it.”

He recalled the hope he saw in millions of eyes on Inauguration Day, and said this recession is rooted in a decade of fiscal irresponsibility capped by the financial sector meltdown. “That is simply just a fact of life, regardless of whose fault it was.”

When this Administration took office, he said, the nation was hemorrhaging jobs, the GDP was shrinking and housing prices had long since “fallen off a cliff” – all this after Republicans had put two wars, prescription drug coverage and massive tax cuts on a credit card, and turned the United States into a nation with the “least amount of respect of almost any nation in the world.”

“Not complaining – we asked for the job,” he said, and the Administration now intends to keep its promise to bring home 95,000 troops by this August and bring the rest home by the end of next year. “There are millions of parents, wives, husbands, daughters, sons” awaiting those troops’ return, he said. “We owe these people.”

China and Russia now stand with us on controlling Iran, he said. “We’ve gone from being one of the least respected nations in the world to one of the most respected – that’s Barack Obama.”

In tough times, he said, “ordinary people have always stepped up” to economic and other challenges, and Boxer has been willing to stand up and lead on unpopular votes, believing government can lay a foundation, set a national agenda, and plant seed money to grow the economy.

Boxer was far ahead of the curve in talking about green technology and clean energy, an “indefatigable voice” who now as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s chair “has the ability to shape this agenda.” She long spoke of health care reform as a moral and fiscal necessity, and it has come to pass. She long spoke of skyrocketing tuition costs, and aid has been rendered; he noted each of his own kids graduated college with more than $70,000 in loan debt. “She has been talking about this for more than 20 years, and it’s finally beginning to happen.”

Just as Abraham Lincoln signed the Railroad Act of 1862 to help spark the railroad growth that became a backbone of national commerce; just as a $25 million federal government investment in computer networking in the early 1960s gave rise to the Internet; government continues today to invest in private ingenuity and enterprise. “Today, because of Barbara Boxer, we’re doing that all over again.”

Loan guarantee programs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have leveraged hundreds of billions in private investment, he said, and “that’s where the jobs are.” And those who keep or gain jobs this way will eat out more, so waitresses keep their jobs, or will get two haircuts a month instead of one, so barbers keep their jobs, he said.

But we can’t lead the 21st century by rebuilding a 20th-century economy, he said, calling for “new industries, new ideas, new initiatives… We can’t compete unless we lead.” That’s the key to being “stronger when we come out than when we came in” to this recession.”

“Think of what you’ve heard her say for the last 20 years,” he said. “She’s ahead of the curve and she’s now in a position of real power to make sure we don’t back off, back off the things we know we have to do.”

Not only California but the whole nation needs Boxer, he said, because she knows that “you’ve got to figure out what is worth losing over… If you haven’t answered that question, it’s just pure ambition… Barbara has known from the moment she got engaged… and that’s the reason she’s not going to lose.”

Biden said the toughest walk any parent makes is the one to a child’s room to tell him or her that they must go to a different school, or stop an activity, or move to another place because the parent lost a job or home; he spoke of his own father telling him such a thing when he was 11 years old in Scranton, Pa.

“That’s a God-darned lousy thing for a man and a woman to have to do, and so many Californians have had to make that walk,” he said, vowing that he, Boxer and the President won’t rest until every American can tell their children, “Honey, it’s going to be OK.”

Biden said he’s absolutely confident the right policies have been put in place, but “now is not the time to falter.” Boxer “punches way above her weight” and will fight to keep the progress moving. “California is coming back, America is coming back and Barbara Boxer is going back.”

Among those attending the fundraiser were San Francisco Bay Area members of Congress Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and John Garamendi.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.