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Biden uses history to compare attacks

From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Launching his own closing argument today, Biden compared the attacks against Obama to those leveled in the campaigns of the nation's greatest presidents, claiming that the "defenders of the status quo have always tried to dear down those who would change our nation for the better."

Sharing "a little bit of history" with an audience at East Carolina University, Biden said that opponents of Thomas Jefferson claimed he "wasn't a real Christian"; Franklin Roosevelt's critics warned he "would destroy the American system of life"; and the unnamed "they" said that John F. Kennedy would be a "dangerous choice in difficult times."

"Sound familiar?" Biden asked. "New ideas and new leaders are often met with new attacks, and almost always negative attacks built on lies, which are the last resort of those who have nothing new to offer. And that's where we find ourselves. But, folks -- as a nation, as a nation, we've always been able to rise, throughout our history … above the destructive politics and elect the right leader at the right time for the right reasons."

As Biden criticized the practitioners of the politics of division, which he said has been the hallmark of the Republican Party for the past 15 years, he also curiously included a television interviewer, Barbara West of WFTV-TV in Florida, among the culprits.

"I know this has been a pretty mean campaign," he said. "I was on a television station the other day doing a satellite fed to a major network in Florida, and the anchor quotes Karl Marx, and says in a sense, 'Isn't Barack Obama Karl Marx?'… Folks, this stuff you're hearing, this stuff you're hearing in this campaign, some of it's pretty ugly. And some of the innuendo is pretty ugly."

Republicans swiftly reacted to Biden's comments, with McCain campaign spokesperson Ben Porritt drawing attention to the fact that Biden has largely avoided taking questions from reporters that accompany him throughout the country, and "is now attacking any reporter who challenges Barack Obama's economic plan to raise taxes."

Today, Biden also mirrored the closing pitch of his running mate, saying the election offers a choice "between doing the same thing we've done the past eight years and expecting a different outcome, or choosing to tap into the oldest, oldest American belief of all – that we do not have to accept things the way they are."

"The real question is how can we be better off four years from now?" he said.

Referring to McCain's statement Sunday on Meet the Press -- that he and President Bush "share a common philosophy" -- Biden added: "George Bush voted early in the presidential race, and that he said that he was voting for John McCain. I guess that's what you call returning the favor, because he deserves that vote!"