President Barack Obama’s Thursday schedule shows him sharing a 12:30 p.m. lunch with Vice President Joe Biden.
It may be an awkward lunch, because Biden’s return to the campaign trail this week has boosted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign, obscured the Democrats’ initial effort to damage Romney’s new pick for vice president, and revived gossip that Biden will be dumped before the Democratic National Convention.
On Tuesday, Biden told his African-American supporters in a Virginia rally that Republicans are “gonna put y’all back in chains.”
His race-baiting allegation has pushed Obama to say that Biden’s statement was merely a misinterpreted defense of the post-bubble Wall Street regulations.
“Consumers — the American people — will be a lot worse off it we repeal these [Wall Street] laws as the other side is suggesting. … In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that,” the nation’s first African-American president told People Magazine in an Wednesday interview.
“I tell you, when I’m traveling around Iowa, that’s not what’s on people’s minds,” Obama said, though Biden’s charge got widespread coverage because of its allusion to slavery.
Obama, though, was contradicted by America’s first post-Reconstruction African-American governor.
“Slavery is nothing to joke about. … You can’t continue to make gaffe after gaffe after gaffe and believe that it’s going to be supportive of what you and the president are trying to do,” said former Virginia Democratic Gov. Doug Wilder.
However, Wilder predicted, Biden won’t be dropped from the ticket.
The lunch will come after White House spokesman Jay Carney conducts the daily press briefing, now scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
There are no polls showing the public’s response to Biden’s attack.
But Obama likely has feedback gathered via the campaign’s intensive and continuous polling operations. If the feedback shows that Biden has damaged the campaign, it won’t improve the atmosphere at their White House lunch.
Biden’s chain-claim prompted anger from GOP supporters, but two other comments also reminded Americans about Biden’s history of verbal gaffes.
The two gaffes suggested that Biden believes it is the 20th century and that his Virginia speech took place in North Carolina.
These statements came after Biden had stayed off the campaign trail for almost a week. Campaign officials did not explain why he had spent most of week at home in Delaware, while Obama continued on the campaign trail.
Biden’s new attack was especially damaging because it provided former Massachusetts Gov. Romney with a way to persuade swing voters that the Obama campaign is divisive and hateful, in contrast to the 2008 “Hope and Change” message.
“Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago,” Romney said during a Wednesday speech in Ohio.
The Obama campaign “is one of the most hateful, divisive operations that we have ever seen in this country,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on the Tuesday episode of “Hannity” on Fox News Channel.