Democratic stalwarts expect vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden to deliver a tough attack on Sen. John McCain during his prime time speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention.
Party loyalists remain anxious that nice-guy presidential candidate Barack Obama hasn't effectively countered GOP attacks, although Democratic leaders on Tuesday spiced up their rhetoric with some bashing of the Republican rival.
Waiting for Tuesday's program to begin, Michigan delegate Edna Bell said Biden has the type of experience necessary to take aim at McCain. Indeed, the Senate veterans traded criticisms at separate campaign stops Tuesday.
“He's the right person to frame John McCain and to tell the truth about the kind of things he's supported,” said Bell, Wayne County chairwoman of Women for Obama. “I didn't expect (McCain) to be vilified early in the convention. That's demonstrative of who Barack Obama is. He's not an attack dog.”
Attacks typically fall to vice presidential candidates, although this campaign must strike a balance between optimism and criticism following a primary campaign in which Obama identified himself as above partisan bickering, said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.
“They're incredibly conscious of their own image,” Ciruli said of the Obama campaign. “One of the reasons he won (the primary) was because Hillary Clinton was the partisan. He was the one who was going to bring people together.”
Ciruli expects Biden to focus on “economy, economy, economy” in tonight's remarks.
Polls show it's the top issue among voters, he said, with up to twice as many people concerned about pocketbook issues than their second-most-talked-about concern: the war in Iraq.
Obama fans got a preview of Biden's thoughts on the economy Tuesday when he lambasted McCain's tax policy at an economic roundtable focused on women's issues.
The $100 billion in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans could instead be used to improve health care, Biden told a crowd in Denver.
“How can you tell me, my friend John, that you're the party that values people?” said Biden. The Delaware Democrat added that his father used to say, “Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I'll tell you what you value.”
Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton, who's also scheduled to speak today, did what comes hardest: He kept a low profile Tuesday and avoided publicly wading into political waters still roiled by tensions between the camps of Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Speaking before a gathering on international affairs, Clinton gave a subdued address on democracy and global warming, referring to the convention and the campaign only in broad strokes. After about 10 minutes of remarks, he left to work on his wife's convention address and his own speech.