Former vice president Joe Biden accepted $200,000 to give a speech that boosted a vulnerable Republican member of the House in Michigan, despite Democrats’ pleas that he not, reports the New York Times.
Three weeks before the election, Biden went to Benton Harbor, in Southwest Michigan, and delivered a speech as Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) “faced the toughest race of his career.”
Biden was paid $200,000 by a Republican-leaning local business group for his trouble.
His contract specifically stated that he would be addressing “primarily older, conservative Republicans and local community members.”
Biden also declined to endorse Upton’s Democratic challenger, Matt Longjohn.
Democrats in the area believed they could win the tight race, but Biden lavished praise on Upton, calling him “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.”
“Mr. Biden stunned Democrats and elated Republicans by praising Mr. Upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience,” the Times reports. “The remarks quickly appeared in Republican advertising. The local Democratic Party pleaded with Mr. Biden to repair what it saw as a damaging error, to no avail.”
Upton ended up winning the race by a razor-thin half-point margin.
The local chair of the Democratic Party said Biden’s speech was an act of “betrayal.”
“It just gives Fred Upton cover and makes it possible for him to continue to pretend to be a useful, bipartisan fellow,” the Democratic Party leader said. “I entered the hall with positive feelings about Mr. Biden and felt very frustrated.”
Read the Times report here.