From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
CUDAHY, Wisc. -- Alluding to tonight's debate, Biden argued that any discussion of foreign policy needs to include supporting first responders, promising a strong federal partnership with local communities to ensure they are equipped to deal with a terrorist attack.
"I'm sick and tired of this neo-conservative malarkey that somehow the federal government doesn't have a responsibility to this local fire hall," Biden said, speaking to firefighters and others at this suburban Milwaukee fire station. "You're not the ones who can control the policy relating to whether or not there's another terrorist attack, but you're the ones who are gonna have to respond [to one]."
He called this a "big deal debate" over differing philosophies. McCain, he said, cares just as much as he and Obama do about protecting the homeland. But he said McCain has supported Bush administration efforts to cut local assistance.
"He votes against giving you the money," he said. "The president of the Untied States will not give you the money because philosophically he doesn't think it's a responsibility of the federal government. It is a local responsibility."
Biden, and his wife, Jill, who joined him this afternoon, both discussed their great personal affection for fire fighters, recounting personal emergencies in which they played a role.
"I guarantee you, in an Obama-Biden administration, firefighters and cops will be first on the list, not last on the list," Biden said.
Biden opened his remarks by joking that he was nervous about his status as Obama's running mate, after listening to a conference call with the campaign staff this morning. He said they discussed whether they constitutionally were allowed to swap him out for Ryan Braun, a Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who won a game for the team last night.
"I'd be willing to let him be vice president if he'd let me take credit for that Grand Slam, I tell ya," he said.
Biden will spend the rest of his day doing satellite interviews on behalf of the ticket, then watch the debate at his hotel with his wife. He'll then appear on network broadcasts after the debate to spin on his running mate's behalf.