By BILL BARROW, Associated Press
Vice President Joe Biden’s midterm election fundraising tour made a stop in Atlanta, where he attended a private fundraising event for U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn on Tuesday.
Nunn, a Democrat, is running for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is retiring, and Democrats see Nunn as one of their best chances to pick up a GOP seat.
Biden is campaigning and raising money around the country for Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections. Many of his stops are in states such as Georgia, where President Barack Obama is unpopular among white voters. For Nunn to win, she’ll have to get support from white voters who supported Mitt Romney over Obama in 2012.
Biden quipped about the chill when he departed Air Force Two late Tuesday morning. “Where’s the warm air?” he said, before immediately departing in a motorcade to an East Lake YMCA, where he chatted with Michelle Nunn’s father, former Sen. Sam Nunn and visited with preschool children.
The first stop came at the elder Nunn’s invitation. Before reporters were ushered out of the room, Biden made a point to praise Sam Nunn as a conciliator and deal-maker when the two served together in the Senate.
“No one was more bipartisan than you,” Biden told the elder Nunn.
Michelle Nunn doesn’t necessarily invoke her father, but that theme is a central part of her effort to woo the conservative and independent voters she would need to defeat a Republican in November. She often bemoans partisanship and blames both parties for Capitol Hill dysfunction.
After the YMCA stop, Biden went to the fundraiser, held at the Buckhead home of longtime Democratic donor Nancy Field.
Republicans, meanwhile, used Biden’s visit to link Nunn to the White House. A spokesman at the RNC said inviting “President Obama’s No. 2” to Georgia exposes Nunn as “a voice for the administration’s liberal agenda.”
“If the Obama administration’s agenda is good enough for Michelle Nunn to support it in private, then why isn’t it good enough for her to support it in public?” Michael Short said via email.
A crowded GOP field will meet in a May 20 primary. A runoff would be in July. Nunn is a heavy favorite in the Democratic primary.
In addition to helping Nunn, Biden campaigned for Obama’s proposal to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and trumpeted the president’s health care overhaul.
Democrats want to use the minimum wage fight as a way to frame Republicans as out of touch with working class Americans. Republicans want to use their opposition to the health care law to repeat their success of the 2010 midterms.
At BG Ad Group, Inc., in Cobb County, Biden praised the media firm’s president for voluntarily raising the pay of his minimum-wage employees.
Darien Southerland wrote earlier this year to Obama expressing support for the wage hike and told the president he was setting a $10.10 wage floor at his business.
“Thanks for what you did,” Biden told Southerland. “We’re going to get this thing done,” the vice president added later, expressing optimism that ignores near-uniform Republican opposition to the proposal.
Biden then visited Midtown restaurant, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, where he sat with several women who recently purchased health coverage under the federally run exchange. Georgia Republicans declined to run a state-based exchange.
The vice president didn’t mention the exchanges’ troubled rollout, instead focusing on the law’s more popular provisions, such as guaranteeing coverage for individuals with existing health issues an allowing young adults to remain on family policies until age 26.
Biden’s visit came on the same day that the White House unveiled its 2015 budget proposal and Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ukraine, where unrest continues after Russian forces invaded the country’s region of Crimea. Biden did not take questions from reporters on those or any other topics.
Follow Barrow on Twitter @BillBarrowAP.