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Biden added, “The truth of the matter is, Barack knows it, I know, had the economy not collapsed around your ears, John, in the middle of literally — as things were moving — I think you probably would have won,” Biden said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Biden and McCain also touched on other news of the day, including the terrorist attack near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, immigration and the push to expand background checks for firearm purchases. McCain was one of only four Senate Republicans to vote in favor of a background check amendment brought by Sens. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa. He is also one of the eight senators behind an immigration overhaul bill.
Despite not getting the 60 votes needed for the background check amendment, Biden remains upbeat, sensing a sea change in public opinion.
“I think this will pass before this year is out, within this Congress, and the reason I think it will is because the public has changed on this.” Biden said of background checks. “That’s what I think happened, John. I think it was a significant miscalculation.”
“I called 17 of my friends in both parties, and the answer I got was as follows: Joe, don’t ask me to walk the plank on this, the House of Representatives will never pass it anyway,” Biden said of his personal lobbying efforts to gain votes as the Obama administration’s point man on gun issues in the aftermath of last year’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Biden said he’s sensed a change in the southern, more conservative parts of his home state of Delaware on issues like guns and immigration, places where, as the vice president put it, “they talk funny like Lindsey does,” a reference to South Carolina GOP senator Lindsey Graham, one of several in attendance at the event sponsored by Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership. The university said that fellow senators Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. were also at the event, along with former Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn.
For his part, McCain seemed particularly troubled by the number of GOP senators who voted against cloture on even taking up the gun control measure. The longtime Arizona senator helped lead in effort in January to rebuff Democratic efforts to make major changes to the Senate’s rules and to attempt to restore comity.
“One of the more remarkable things about that whole process that we just went through was, a large number of our fellow Republican colleagues voted against moving forward with even a debate on the legislation. I have never seen anything quite like that before.” McCain said.