Biden dismisses McCain claim

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (left), D-Del., accompanied by (from second from left) Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., waves during a campaign rally in downtown Charleston Friday.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Friday that Republican John McCain would need a Halloween costume to convince voters that he would depart from the policies and divisive politics of President Bush.

“I know Halloween is coming, but John McCain as the candidate of change? Whoa, come on,” Biden said during an outdoor rally in the capital city’s downtown. “John McCain and change? He needs a costume for that. Folks, the American people aren’t going to buy this.”

Based on recent presidential elections, West Virginia is an odd place for a Democratic candidate just over a week before Election Day. George W. Bush won the state in 2000 and 2004, cruising to victory in the last contest. President Clinton won the state in 1992 and 1996.

McCain leads in recent state polls, but Barack Obama has been spending money on advertising in the state, which offers five electoral votes.

The Delaware senator and Scranton, Pa., native also sought to assure the crowd that “clean coal” is part of Obama’s energy strategy. Biden said West Virginia and other coal states could create thousands of new jobs by developing the technology to help U.S. and foreign power plants burn the fossil fuel more cleanly.

“Barack and I believe clean coal is part of our energy future,” Biden said. “That’s why we supported adding $200 million in funding for carbon capture and sequestration technology. Instead of pouring our energy dollars into the sands of Saudi Arabia and the pockets of Venezuela, we should be exporting home-made technology — solving not only our own energy challenges, but the world’s.”

Biden had told an Ohio voter in September that the Obama campaign does not support clean coal, and that coal-fired power plants should be built in China, not the United States. Biden has said the U.S. should develop clean coal technology and export it to China.

During the vice presidential debate earlier this month, Biden said his comments in Ohio were taken out of context and that he supports clean coal technology. Obama has said he supports the development of coal-fired plants that capture carbon dioxide emissions and store the gas underground.

“John, if you’re listening, stop this malarkey about who’s for clean coal,” Biden told the crowd, estimated by Charleston police at between 2,500 and 3,000.

Later in Virginia, Biden roused supporters in Danville and Martinsville, two neighboring factory towns that have seen thousands of blue-collar jobs lost in the past 10 years, with a pledge to create up to 51,000 jobs in Virginia over the next 10 years through Obama’s plan to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

“This is about jobs and, in a sense, it’s about more than jobs. It is about dignity and it is about respect,” said Biden.

“When you lose a job or your house is foreclosed on, it’s not just an economic loss,” Biden said. “It’s about having to make maybe the longest walk of your life up a short flight of stairs to your daughter’s bedroom or your son’s bedroom to look them in the eye and tell them, ‘Sorry, honey, we’re losing our house. I lost my job.”’

Biden was on his fifth trip to Virginia, a traditionally Republican state where Obama has a slight lead in polls.

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