FLAT ROCK, Mich. — As the economy reels, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the Other Running Mate — has been absolutely butchering Senator John McCain across the Rust Belt this week. It is not clear who has noticed.
“John is so out of touch, he just has no idea,” charged Mr. Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, who called his “old, dear friend” someone who “just doesn’t think,” who is behaving in a repugnant manner and who is peddling “Republican garbage,” and malarkey.
The older woman who introduced him at a rally here called Mr. Biden’s Republican counterpart, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a “bucket of fluff,” and he rewarded the woman as he took the microphone with an “I love you” and a gentle kiss on the head.
“If I sound angry, it’s because I am angry,” Mr. Biden told a few hundred people gathered at a high school football field. Yes, he sounds angry, yelling through his stump speeches, flailing his arms and telling a (supportive) member of the audience to “Shush up, will you?” (“I’m kidding,” he added, but did not sound it.)But the reality for Mr. Biden is that while running mates are second-fiddlers by definition, the phenomenon of Ms. Palin has rendered him something of a fourth or fifth fiddle. It is not like last month, when reporters swarmed Mr. Biden’s Delaware home and delegates swooned at the Democratic convention. He is now trailed by just a few national reporters, and struggling to break through in a race marked by historic firsts, political celebrities and charismatic newcomers — none named Joe Biden.