Former Vice President Joe Biden has long portrayed himself as “Middle-Class Joe,” a sort of lunch pail-toting, working-class type of average American who has been in Washington D.C. for decades fighting on behalf of the same sort of people.
But in reality, the front-runner for the Democratic 2020 nomination is actually a multi-millionaire who has become incredibly wealthy via book deals and paid speaking gigs. The recent revelation of his demands on top of a large fee to deliver a paid speech has shown him to be quite the elitist.
The Washington Post reported on the contents of four contracts for paid speaking gigs by Biden after leaving the White House in 2017 that had been obtained via public records requests.
Those contracts showed that Biden charged anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 to deliver a speech. Numerous “riders” were also tacked on to ensure that a number of perks would be provided for Biden by the sponsors of the paid speech.
The Post wrote, “As Biden traveled the country before announcing his presidential campaign this spring, his sponsors provided VIP hotel suites, town cars and professional drivers, chartered flights and travel expense reimbursements that for some of his appearances reached at least $10,000 per event.”
The newspaper found at least 65 instances where Biden had made an appearance or delivered a speech since leaving the White House, and though it appears he waived the speaking fee in at least 10 of those instances, it appears that he still received travel reimbursements and other perks on some of those occasions.
It is worth pointing out that while Biden’s campaign declined to provide any comment for The Post, the campaign did say that Biden had been paid for 50 or less of those 65 appearances.
One particular perk is the requirement that Biden is to be provided with a fancy Italian meal composed of “angel hair pomodoro, a Caprese salad, topped off with raspberry sorbet with biscotti.” One would think a “Middle-Class Joe” kind of guy would be content with a cheeseburger and milkshake, but who knows.
The Post noted some of the other perks that speech sponsors were contractually obligated to provide for Biden: “His dressing room was to be stocked with bottled water, Coke Zero, regular Coca-Cola, Orange Gatorade and black coffee. It needed a full-length mirror, six straight-back chairs and one portable steamer.”
On multiple occasions, Biden took issue with venues referring to him as the “former” vice president and demanded the word “former” be left off.
In at least one instance, a speech at the University of Buffalo, Biden’s team demanded a poster for the event to have the title “vice president” precede his name, even though that title was listed underneath and no other guests at the event — including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — were similarly identified by their formal prior titles.
On top of all of that, “Middle-Class Joe” also owns two expensive homes and rents a third in Washington, D.C. That home in D.C. — which resembles a brick version of the White House — is a massive 12,000-square foot, five bedrooms, ten bathrooms, sprawling mansion along the Potomac River.
The mansion was once occupied by former Secretary of State Alexander Haig and reportedly rents for $20,000 per month, according to real estate site Zillow.
Biden’s other two homes include a 7,000-square-foot home he had built next to a lake in Wilmington, Delaware, as well as a 4,800-square foot beachfront vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, that was purchased for $2.7 million.
To be sure, Biden was listed as the “poorest” member of Congress for many years, which played well with his schtick as an average working-class guy. But given his many years of drawing a lucrative salary as a senator and then vice president and as well as through the paid speaking gigs and a multi-million dollar book deal after leaving the White House, Biden is far from “poor” or “middle-class” any longer.
All of that said, we don’t begrudge the gaffe-prone Biden of one dime of the wealth he has accumulated, assuming he did so in a fair fashion in our capitalist system.
Where we take issue is Biden’s hypocritical portrayal of himself as a working-class hero on the campaign trail while in actuality he has been living a life of elitist luxury and upper-class wealth on the paid speech circuit.
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