CONCORD, N.H. – The words were a bit simpler but the answers none the shorter when Joe Biden, who has a reputation for being verbose, faced an audience of fourth-graders Thursday.
The Democratic presidential candidate encountered the group in the lobby of the New Hampshire statehouse on his way to filing his candidacy with the secretary of state's office.
Asked how long he had been in the Senate, the Delaware senator, who was elected in 1972, started talking about the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He then detoured into an aside about how his sister was pushed to be a nurse or teacher while he was encouraged to pursue any career he wanted despite grades worse than hers.
He also gave a detailed answer to a question adults don't often ask candidates: How did the war in Iraq start? Biden compared the war in Iraq with the invasion of Afghanistan.
"Osama bin Laden set up camps there, and he was getting a lot of help from folks running that country called Afghanistan. And that's where he planned an attack on America to bring the World Trade Towers down and kill all those innocent Americans. We had a right to, and we should've gone, to Afghanistan to try to get bin Laden and those people who've done very bad things to America," he said.
"But the president, I think, he got a little confused," he continued. "I think he thought the folks in another country, way, way far away, far from here, it's also far from Afghanistan, called Iraq. He said, 'The guy in Iraq he helped bin Laden do bad things to us,' and he didn't. He wasn't a good guy, but he didn't help. So we used that kind of as an excuse to attack Iraq."
Biden also asked the children a few questions, including the names of the past two presidents. He especially liked the answer he got when he asked them to predict the next president.