Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, campaigning in North Carolina where black votes could help swing the state to the Democrats, said Sunday that electing a black person to the White House would be transformative.
Biden said the policies of running mate Barack Obama make his presidency even more urgent and declared this to be the most important election that any living person has seen in their lifetime. But he particularly singled out the meaning of electing someone who is black.
"That will be a transformative event in American politics and internationally," Biden said. "That all by itself will be significant."
North Carolina last voted for a Democrat in 1976, when Jimmy Carter won much of the South. But the state has a large population of blacks galvanized by Obama's candidacy, and the Illinois senator has competed aggressively here for months.
Both Obama and Republican presidential candidate John McCain have been airing television ads in the state, indicating how closely both campaigns are watching the numbers.
Biden asserted that he is a close friend of McCain and would be on a plane in an instant if his longtime Senate colleague needed help. But Biden then delivered a lengthy volley of attacks and declared that McCain is out of touch and dead wrong about how to deal with pressing issues.
"John doesn't get it," Biden said of McCain's plan to provide tax credits to help cover health coverage. He touted the Obama-Biden plan to provide universal health care, and guaranteed such a plan by the end of their first term.
Biden also sought to undercut the appeal of his Republican counterpart, Sarah Palin, to women voters. Citing income gaps between men and women, Biden declared that he and Obama would ensure equal pay for equal work.
And the Delaware senator said the two would appoint Supreme Court members to do so.
"This isn't about choice," said Biden, who spoke after an appearance by his wife, Jill. "This is about a lot more."
Before the Charlotte rally, Biden also appeared at a fundraiser at the home of Crandall Bowles, wife of Erskine Bowles. Erskine Bowles is president of the University of North Carolina system and a former chief of staff in the White House of Bill Clinton. Biden said the campaign has some 375 paid staff members and 20,000 volunteers in North Carolina.