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Biden pushes reform policies; VP candidate hits Gulf Coast

By Staff | Sep 4, 2008

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden pushed economic and energy policies to a crowd of about 500 at a campaign stop at the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers on Wednesday, but he also said the recent slaying of Fort Myers police officer Andrew Widman was a tragedy that could have been avoided.

Biden said he and running mate Barack Obama, if elected, will push for legislation to give judges access to any outstanding warrants for individuals when residing over cases. Abel Arrango, the man who shot Widman, was in court two weeks before the slaying.

“There will be no more situations where an officer Widman is gunned down by someone who was in court two weeks earlier,” Biden said.

Biden said he is familiar with the Fort Myers area because his brother used to own a home there.

“I’m happy to be back in Fort Myers and also happy to be campaigning with and for Barack Obama,” he said.

After a short speech, Biden conducted a roundtable discussion with four area residents that centered on the economy.

Nancy Hendricks, an adjunct teacher at Edison State College and a Fort Myers resident, said foreclosures in her ZIP code number more than 900, and middle-class people are struggling in the current economy.

“Three people on my street had to move to Atlanta to get jobs,” Hendricks said.

Biden said that while cutting taxes for 95 percent of working Americans, an Obama administration would roll back a $100 billion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans to pay for a health care plan.

“Because what’s the whole objective here? Keep people in their homes, keep them healthy and allow them to grow the economy,” Biden told the crowd.

Biden criticized Republican presidential nominee John McCain for not understanding the troubled economy.

“You can have all the character in the world, but if you’re not going to help me keep my job, I love you, but I don’t want you to be my president,” Biden said of McCain.

He said that instead of allowing offshore drilling that would have no immediate affect on oil prices, an Obama administration would release some of the country’s strategic petroleum reserves to drive down the price of oil.

“We’ve got to help people right now to keep from drowning, then have long-term solutions to make sure (high oil prices) don’t happen again,” Biden said.

Part of that long-term solution includes investing in alternative energy and creating five million new jobs associated with producing alternative fuels.

Biden said voters should focus on the judgement of Obama and McCain when deciding their vote.

“Look at the judgement of the people. You’re asking to lead this country in one of the most critical times in American history,” Biden appealed to the crowd.