Posted: Nov. 20, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Joe Biden is fond of talking about the bill he sponsored to put more cops on the streets. Over the weekend he could have used a few more in the parks, too.

Biden scheduled a mid-day rally last Saturday for his Democratic presidential campaign in Banning Park near Newport and rented a huge party tent, voluminous enough to shelter 500 people.

Sometime between Friday evening, when the tent was set up, and early Saturday morning, when staffers arrived to check out the site, the tent was vandalized and collapsed.

Not for the first time, politics became the scene of a crime. The New Castle County police, who were called in, found 32 tent straps and nylon ropes cut and the tent itself slashed, according to Cpl. Trinidad Navarro, the public information officer.

Surveillance cameras are used in county parks, but there were none in this area, Navarro said. Police still are investigating.

There was nothing to indicate the sabotage was a political dirty trick. The event barely was publicized outside Democratic circles because it was off-limits to the press.

"I can't imagine someone would find the invitation and go take down the tent. We assumed it was random," said Marion Steinfels, a spokeswoman for the campaign.

The fix was in, though. The tent company was contacted and hustled to put up another tent. The rally went ahead as planned.

By the time people arrived, there was no sign anything had happened -- which is to say it had about as much of an impact as Biden has in trying to squeeze through Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for press coverage after a Democratic debate.

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Finally there is a survey showing Biden leading the presidential pack.

It has him missing fewer votes than the other senators in the running for the White House -- not exactly a way for any of them to cover themselves in glory.

Of the 23 votes in the past month, Biden was present for nine of them. Among his fellow Democrats, Clinton was there for seven votes, Obama for six, and Chris Dodd for five. John McCain on the Republican side had the worst record with three votes.

The tally was reported by Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill. It predicted that the candidates' attendance would slide even more over the next month as they campaigned in advance of the Iowa caucuses, the first event on the presidential calendar in early January.

Roll Call quoted a Senate aide, who quipped, "The December legislative calendar will look like Swiss cheese, because we're going to have to work around the candidates' schedules."