Moran to Biden: Does Palin's Rhetoric Make You 'Concerned for Obama's Safety?'

In a gushing look at a day on the campaign trail with Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden for Monday's "Nightline," ABC's Terry Moran charged Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's rhetoric about Barack Obama has “stoked the anger at Republican rallies, where there have been reports of attendees yelling things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him.'" After that setup, an earnest Moran asked Biden if he now fears for Obama's “safety,” and he pressed Biden to denigrate Palin: “Is she up to the job in your judgment?”

Moran clearly suggested to Biden that Palin's criticism of Obama (“someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country”) endangers the Democratic nominee as he followed that clip: “Are you at all concerned in this home stretch for Senator Obama's safety?”

Audio: MP3 clip (35 secs, 250 Kb)

Biden dismissed Moran's hyperbole, prompting Moran to try again to get Biden to denounce the GOP ticket: “And when we told him about a Time magazine report quoting the Virginia state GOP Chairman, Biden couldn't believe it.”

Moran to Biden: “The Virginia GOP head was quoted by Time magazine as saying to volunteers go out there and draw the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.” Biden: “My God, did he really say that?” Moran assured him: “That's quoted in Time magazine.”

Time's Karen Tumulty reported Sunday that Virginia state GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick made “the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: 'Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon.'”

Monday's Washington Post reported the McCain campaign distanced itself from the comparison: “Gail Gitcho, a McCain spokeswoman, also denounced Frederick's remarks, calling them 'not appropriate.'”

Moran's piece on his Sunday with Biden concluded with a soundbite from Biden mocking McCain and Palin, a clip Moran graciously set up:

As the race heads into the final weeks, Biden just keeps talking. Talking to the anxious middle class voters of Scranton and those like them across the country about the man he hopes to govern it.
Moran's final word: “The irrepressible Joe Biden.” And the irrepressible media bias.

Moran teased the segment at the top of the Monday, October 13 program:
Morning Joe. We hit the road with vice presidential nominee Joe Biden in the town he grew up in, as he speaks out about fringe elements at Republican election rallies. It's a Nightline exclusive.
A couple of Moran's friendly descriptions of Biden as the two walked around the Scranton neighborhood Biden left 55 years ago at age ten:
♦ It was a good day to travel with Biden. He was headed to Scranton, Pennsylvania, his birth place and boyhood home and always hotly contested turf in this battleground state.

♦ Biden is a born politician. He's a people person, a toucher, a glad-hander in the best sense of that word.
A transcript, picking up with the second half of the report with Moran interviewing Biden on the steps of Biden's old home and in a regular sit-down, indoor setting:
TERRY MORAN: Biden's got Obama's back, especially now after a couple of weeks of sharp character attacks from John McCain and Sarah Palin.

SARAH PALIN AT RALLY: Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.

MORAN: Attacks that stoked the anger at Republican rallies, where there have been reports of attendees yelling things like “terrorist” and “kill him.”

MORAN TO BIDEN: Are you at all concerned in this home stretch for Senator Obama's safety?

JOE BIDEN: Look, no, I'm not. This is just a really hotly contested election. I don't think they intentionally do it, they encourage people who are really fringe people. I'm not suggesting the rallies are fringe rallies but the guy who yelled from the audience kill him is a fringe person. I mean, that's not a healthy thing in any circumstance.

MORAN: And when we told him about a Time magazine report quoting the Virginia state GOP Chairman, Biden couldn't believe it.

MORAN TO BIDEN: The Virginia GOP head was quoted by Time magazine as saying to volunteers go out there and draw the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.

BIDEN: My God, did he really say that?

MORAN: That's quoted in Time magazine.

BIDEN: I don't believe -- I can't believe -- I don't -- I'm surprised John McCain hadn't gone down and whacked the guy with his fist. I mean, I don't think there's a prejudiced bone in John McCain's body. But that kind of stuff is really off the wall. I refuse to let myself believe John McCain had anything to do with that.

MORAN: And what about the other vice presidential candidate? The one grabbing all the attention.

MORAN TO BIDEN: Is she up to the job in your judgment?

BIDEN: That's for the public to decide.

MORAN: You have no opinion on that?

BIDEN: I have an opinion. It's for the public to decide.

MORAN: Well that's a rare moment. Joe Biden not sharing an opinion. And as the race heads into the final weeks, Biden just keeps talking. Talking to the anxious middle class voters of Scranton and those like them across the country about the man he hopes to govern it.

BIDEN: The idea that Sarah Palin and John McCain say this guy is detached when he and his wife have busted their neck for scholarships and loans and worked through school, and particularly in the case of Michelle coming out of a tougher neighborhood, and we're getting a lecture from Republicans about how we are not connected? Give me a break. These guys are about as connected as that SUV is to that stop sign.

MORAN: And for the record, the SUV was not connected to the stop sign at that point. The irrepressible Joe Biden.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center