No one has done more in the U.S. Senate for firefighters than Chris Dodd, Vice President Joe Biden said Friday at an East Hartford firehouse.
Recalling his run against Dodd for the presidential nomination in Iowa, Biden said he was “mad as hell” when he didn’t receive the endorsement of the International Association of Firefighters. That is, he was angry until he learned the endorsement went to Dodd.
Dodd ended his presidential bid in Iowa after winning only one delegate. His poll numbers in Connecticut have never fully recovered and it remains to be seen whether Biden’s trip to the state will give Dodd a much needed boost in the polls.
President Barack Obama’s trip to the state in October for a Dodd fundraiser didn’t boost Dodd’s poll numbers and may have even sent them in the opposite direction, even though the president himself remains fairly popular in Connecticut.
“President Barack Obama is still popular with independents, but voters say that his support of Dodd won’t affect their Senate vote,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said.
When asked if Obama’s visit to the state would make them more likely to vote for Dodd, the poll found that it didn’t make a difference for 75 percent, while 17 percent were less likely and 7 percent were more likely to vote for Dodd based on Obama’s visit.
Dodd was unable to attend both his fundraiser and the vice president’s speech in East Hartford.
During his more than 20-minute speech, Biden praised the use of $3.4 million in stimulus funds to help the town build a new firehouse on Brewer Street and promised that over the next six months Americans will see a 250 percent increase in projects targeted for federal stimulus funds. He said only about a third of the $787 billion in economic stimulus funds approved in February 2008 has been allocated.
Biden, who was put in charge of federal stimulus spending by Obama, said the focus for the first allocation to the states was Medicaid funding and the second-part will be the construction of roads, bridges, firehouses, and other projects.
“We’re not going to be satisfied, folks, until we actually begin to grow the middle class,” Biden said Friday. He said people should forget about growing the Gross Domestic Product. “The GDP doesn’t mean anything to anybody who is out of work.”
Biden promised that the Obama administration, with the help of Congress, will help turn around the economy.
“I can also tell you we‘re not going anywhere. Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, some of our Republican friends, as well as the president, we‘re not going anywhere until we fix this,” Biden said. “We inherited this hole. It’s our problem now. We’ve got to put a ladder down that hole and get those people up.”