Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he welcomes a debate with Republicans about the future of the country, and he hopes that debate is held with---wait for it---Donald Trump.
At a high-end fundraiser in Cleveland for Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Biden said the GOP has a “different vision” for dealing with the problem of the rampaging federal budget deficit, echoing a theme in a major address delivered by President Obama last week.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” he told the crowd of about 100. “The Republicans this time are totally, and I don’t mean this in a pejorative sense, are out of the closet. They are laying out for the first time what they are for and how they think they are going to deal with the problem. That’s a debate I can hardly wait for – hopefully with Donald Trump.”
The fundraiser was held at Progressive Field, home of baseball’s Cleveland Indians, currently in first place in the American League Central. Brown is a top target of Republicans in 2012—and Obama and Biden are expected to make frequent trips to the state in the coming months.
A first-term senator from Northeast Ohio well-known in state political circles, Brown is a favorite of progressives and unions for his strong stand on trade issues, but he could face a difficult road to re-election in a state that swung radically in favor of the GOP last year. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is reportedly mulling a run against Brown.
According to pool reports, Biden pledged to the crowd that he would keep his remarks brief, saying “if you keep a group standing for more than 10 minutes, you lose all support.”
He then spoke for nearly 26 minutes.
In his remarks, Biden called for the repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts, saying the country could no longer afford them.
“I mean this sincerely, I hope a lot of you are benefiting from the top 1 percent of the Bush tax cuts,” he said. “I sincerely mean that. I hope you are in a position to benefit. But those tax cuts for the next 10 years, every year, are going to cost us.”
Biden arrived in the city Tuesday morning, and he and Brown toured Slyman’s, a downtown institution famous for its massive corned beef sandwiches. The vice president met three members of the Slyman family, who work in the restaurant.
“I’m just hangin’ out, man,” Biden said at one point.
The question, after Biden's visit, is whether he'll make Slyman's online photo gallery, now populated by former President George W. Bush, who visited in 2007, former "Full House" star Dave "Uncle Joey" Coulier, and ice-skating legend Scott Hamilton.