Joe Biden exceeded today’s gaffe quota at a campaign event in Las Vegas, asking twice if anyone in the crowd knew someone who served in “Iraq or Iran,” then saying in a reference to Paul Ryan’s book Young Guns, “unfortunately the bullets are aimed at you.” Just to add an extra layer of irony, Biden kicked off his speech at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas by saying, “I do have a bad habit of saying what I think,” adding, “I never say anything I don’t think. The problem is, I sometimes say all that I think …”
“Ryan has written a book called Young Guns with two other fellas, members of the House,” said Biden said as the crowd chuckled, adding, “No, these are Republican leaders in the House.” A man shouted, “They have guns with no bullets!” prompting Biden to make his own bullet quip.
Of course, the Romney campaign was quick to pounce on the remark. “Today’s over-the-top rhetoric by Vice-President Biden is disappointing, but not all that surprising,” said spokesman Brendan Buck. “In the absence of a vision or plan to move the country forward, the vice-president is left only with ugly political attacks beneath the dignity of the office he occupies.”
While the Obama campaign’s standard procedure following a Bidenism is to explain what the vice-president meant to say, instead his campaign secretary, Amy Dudley, used the metaphor defense:
The Vice President’s exchange with an audience member today was clearly a reference to how the policies discussed in Paul Ryan’s book, Young Guns, would devastate the middle class. Given that people don’t assume that Paul Ryan is literally a gun, it probably makes sense not to assume that Joe Biden was speaking literally about bullets.
Now it’s up to pundits to debate whether it’s worse to say that Ryan metaphorically has a gun aimed at Americans, or to declare that you wanted to punch the president.