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Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders during Sanders' swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Senate in 2013. (Photo: Wikimedia/cc)

Backing Bernie's Bold Vision, Biden Knocks Hillary's "No We Can't" Mantra

"I don't think any Democrat's ever won saying, 'We can't think that big,'" the vice president said.

Nika Knight Beauchamp

Although Vice President Joe Biden has promised to stay neutral on the Democratic presidential candidates this campaign season, he offered high praise for Bernie Sanders' message in an interview with the New York Times published Thursday: Biden will "take Mr. Sanders' aspirational approach over Mrs. Clinton's caution any day," the newspaper reports.

"I like the idea of saying, 'We can do much more,' because we can," Biden told the Times.

The vice president had harsh words for Clinton's call for slow, incremental change over political revolution. Biden said, "I don't think any Democrat's ever won saying, 'We can't think that big—we ought to really downsize here because it's not realistic," he said in a mocking tone, according to the newspaper. "C'mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I'm not part of the party that says, 'Well, we can't do it.'"

Biden has praised Sanders' campaign message before. Sanders "is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real," Biden told CNN in January. "And that is the absolute enormous concentration of wealth in a small group of people, with the middle class [...] being left out."

In contrast, Biden said at the time, "It's relatively new for Hillary to talk about that. Hillary's focus has been on other things up to now, and that's been Bernie's—nobody questions Bernie's authenticity on those issues."

Biden's own career, however, has coincided "with the stagnation in middle-class incomes, especially for Americans without college degrees, which both parties have failed to durably remedy," the New York Times observes.

"That is a failure," Biden acknowledged to the newspaper.

On Thursday, Biden emphasized his support for Sanders' call for radical change, telling the New York Times that U.S. presidents "have always been told by really smart people: 'Don't push something that you can't succeed in—it diminishes your power.' I completely disagree with that proposition."

"Everything I've ever cared about," Biden continued, "with the exception of the president's brilliant passage of the Affordable Care Act, takes time. The only way to get these big things done is talk about them."

Sanders approved of Biden's message:

Sanders repeated Biden's praise at his campaign stops in Pennsylvania on Thursday, remarking to an exuberant, overflowing crowd in Scranton, "I think the vice president—born and raised in Scranton—I think the vice president is exactly right."


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