FRIDAY, Jan. 25 — U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin defended former Vice President Joe Biden today for his controversial praise of a Republican congressman from Michigan in the heat of the November General Election.
“The firestorm around Vice President Biden over one comment about Fred Upton I think is just a symbol of how polarized we’ve become. He said a nice thing about Fred Upton and the work he did on securing cancer research funding,” said Slotkin. The Holly Democrat represents the 8th District, which includes Ingham County.
Upton, she said, “did something that we know that Vice President Biden cares a lot about — his son died of cancer relatively recently.” Joseph “Beau” Biden III died of brain cancer in 2015.
Slotkin spoke in a radio interview that airs Sunday at 10 a.m. on WDBM, 88.9 FM.
Biden, who is considering another run for the Democrat nomination for president, drew national attention this week when his remarks came to light.
The New York Times reported that his comments, delivered three weeks before the General Election in Upton’s district in southwestern Michigan, “stunned Democrats and elated Republicans.” Upton reelection by four and a ½ percentage points against his Democratic challenger — the longtime Republican’s closest race ever.
Slotkin, a moderate Democrat who scored an upset victory in a district that has elected Republicans for the last two decades, said, “We’ve got to be able to say positive things across the aisle and not be condemned for it.”
Slotkin also pointed that Biden campaigned last year “for a ton of Democrats, including me.” Biden appeared at a Slotkin rally at Lansing Community College.
“This idea that one comment about something that sounds legitimately positive means that he does not support Democrats is false,” she added.
Slotkin was less comfortable with the $200,000 that Biden received for the speech, which was sponsored by the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan.
“That’s the kind of thing that makes it really hard for the average person to feel like they really respect and understand what government officials do in their lives after service. That seems like a lot of money.”
Slotkin appeared on “City Pulse on the Air,” which is broadcast at 10 a.m. Sundays on WDBM 88.9 FM. Beginning this week, the congresswoman will be a weekly guest on the program.