From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
CONCORD, NH -- Joe Biden officially joined the field on the New Hampshire ballot today, saying he is "far and away" the most qualified candidate when it comes to foreign policy.
Entering the Secretary of State's office here, Biden was told about the historic filing desk, the only piece of furniture that remains from when the State House originally opened. Secretary Bill Gardner added that there was a "Delaware connection," since the state reclaimed the item after many years from a Delaware source. "Well, I tell you what, I hope it brings me luck," Biden said.
Speaking with reporters, Biden (of course) praised the state's first-in-the-nation status. "It is a literal fact, it is not an exaggeration, it is not fiction, it is not hyperbole, to suggest that without the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus, there is no level playing field," he said.
Biden also discounted his standing in the polls, saying voters here will not begin making up their minds for another month. "I'm ahead of where John Kerry was at this point in the process," he said. "Can you name me a front-runner other than an incumbent who has been ahead so far at this point who's ended up being the nominee?" And the Senate Foreign Relations chairman said Iraq remains the top issue among primary voters. "As long as that's the case, I'm by far and away the most qualified person to deal with those issues based on my track record, not just what I've said," he said.
Biden was asked about his comments about Rudy Giuliani at Tuesday night's debate. "Rudy was saying that Clinton and Obama weren't qualified on foreign policy. And here's a man who several months ago said, in a public statement reported in the New York Times, 'I don't know who's further ahead on nuclear weapons, Iran or Korea.'" Biden then smirked and shrugged his shoulders.
Biden had to cut his availability short and canceled the rest of his schedule here today because he was called back to Washington for an SCHIP vote.