Posted: Aug. 28, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Joe Biden's presidential adventure has brought him recognition for his grasp of foreign policy and solid marks for his performance in the debates.

What it has not brought him is money.

The Federal Election Commission has a nifty new "Presidential Campaign Finance Map" on its Web site at, detailing the contributions collected by 19 candidates, including Biden's fellow Democrats and the Republicans, through the most recent reporting date of June 30.

The leaders are Hillary Clinton with $62 million and Barack Obama at $59 million for the Democrats and Mitt Romney at $44 million and Rudy Giuliani at $35 million for the Republicans.

Baseball has its "Mendoza Line," a meager .200 batting average named for a shortstop who lingered around that level for nine seasons. The Democratic presidential field appears to have its own "Biden Line" separating the "long shots" from the "no shots."

With $6 million, Biden trails the other underdogs like Bill Richardson at $13 million and Chris Dodd at $12 million, but it puts distance between him and the no-chance candidacies of Dennis Kucinich at $1 million and Mike Gravel with a couple of hundred thousand.

Biden's modest finances prompted Tom Carper, the state's other Democratic senator, to try to help out Saturday at their party's Sussex County Beach Jamboree at Cape Henlopen State Park.

While other candidates headed to the Hamptons this summer for upscale receptions where donors maxed out by writing checks at $2,300 a pop, Carper decided to pass the hat for Biden -- literally. He plunked $100 of his own into a cowboy hat and then went trolling for dollars with a couple of aides among 300 or so Democrats at the jamboree.

It probably was legal. Federal election law allows cash contributions of up to $100, to be listed on campaign finance reports as "un-itemized."

In addition, Secretary of State Harriet Smith Windsor was inspired by the hoopla to write out a check for Biden for $1,000.

Carper hauled in about $1,000. Not bad -- although maybe not as good as Biden could have done if he were a Republican and people let him scrounge behind the sofa cushions in Chateau Country.

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Delawareans do not make presidents. Iowans do.

It is the reason that Biden was so pleased about a turn of events in Iowa, the site of the first presidential caucuses, that he scooped his own news when he spoke at the jamboree.

"In Iowa, we will be announcing at the end of this Labor Day weekend, I believe, that we will have more endorsements from the state legislature than anyone, including Hillary or anyone else running," Biden said.

It earned him a whoop and a round of applause from the crowd, which knows its politics and understood the implication -- that these down-ballot politicians in Iowa figure it would be better for Democratic candidates to have Biden at the top of the ticket, not Clinton or anybody else.

By contrast, no one paid much attention to what some Delaware Democratic politicians thought about Biden. Before the jamboree, there was a meeting of the party's state executive committee, which produced a resolution from the four regional chairs -- Theo Gregory in Wilmington, Jim Paoli in New Castle County, Abby Betts in Kent County and Tom Chapman in Sussex County -- to commend Biden on his candidacy.

They had to, though. It might not be much news that they did it, but it sure would be if they declined.