From NBC's Ron Allen
Here's something Joe Biden said, again, recently. "In my neighborhood, you want to say something about me, look me in the eye and tell me."
The crowd under an outdoor pavilion in Jefferson City, Mo., burst out in applause and rose to its feet.
"Say it to me straight up," Biden bellowed, sounding like a tough kid from Scranton PA might have back in the day.
Biden was criticizing McCain for not looking Obama in the eye at their last debate (or the one before that), and for not leveling some of the "character" attacks in some of his TV ads and stump speeches, like, "Who is the real Barack Obama?"...directly at Obama.
So, today in Lisbon, Ohio, when Biden sat down for a cheeseburger at the Steel Trolley Diner, and began answering a few questions from the traveling press corps, for the first time since way back in September, it seemed like a good time to ask whether he -- "Straight up" -- has contacted his old friend McCain to give him a piece of his mind?
"A while ago I did," Biden said. "I called him a while ago."
"No it's been -- just since before Sept. 11th."
Back then, Biden was concerned about how the candidates' families were being drawn into the campaign by some negative accusations floating around.
On Sept. 11th, Biden, Obama and McCain all attended a community service event at New York's Columbia University. Biden spoke briefly to McCain there, after trying to reach him by telephone unsuccessfully several times, Biden's aides say.
It was apparently a very brief meeting. Biden's people say McCain made it clear "he didn't want to talk about it."
And it apparently did not accomplish very much, since the campaign has heated up considerably since then, with Obama's "associations" with people like 60's radical Bill Ayers taking center stage.
Biden especially condemns McCain TV ads that talk about terrorism and Obama. In an interview on MSNBC's Hardball, Biden warned, "You don't throw race and terrorism" together, adding "that's a combustible mix … where people are angry."
In fact, at every stop Biden charges that all of McCain's ads now are negative.
So has he tried to reach his old friend John again? It seems obvious watching and listening to Biden that the attacks bother him.
I asked, why not just say, "Man to man," like the guys in ol' Scranton, "You gotta do something?"
Biden responded, "I know John knows my views. I know he knows my views. I expressed them in a -- slightly different way -- not a telephone call -- earlier, it's John's campaign," referring to that meeting on Sept. 11th.
Maybe it was quite a "straight up" talk after all.
Now there's speculation McCain may bring up the "Ayers issue" in the final presidential debate. And the other day Biden warned that McCain may regret his attacks "for the rest of his life."
They'll certainly have a lot to talk about, face to face, when all of this is over.