Vice President Joe Biden said this week that he doesn't "blame people" who voted for a Texas inmate and convicted felon over President Barack Obama in West Virginia.
In a local news interview with Ohio's WTOV-TV, Biden responded to a question about surprising results in West Virginia's Democratic primary earlier this month that left Keith Judd, also known as Prisoner 11593-051, with 41 percent of the vote:
"Look, I come from a household where whenever there's a recession, somebody around my grandpop or my dad's table lost their job -- a brother, a sister, a friend, a neighbor," Biden said. "When you're outta work, man, it's a depression. And a lot of people are still hurt because of this God-awful recession we inherited that cost 8.4 million jobs before we could really get going. And so I don't blame people. They're frustrated. They're angry."
Judd's performance has underscored Obama's struggles with popularity even among Democrats in Appalachia and areas of the Midwest. While Biden's sympathetic response to their protest votes may have come as a surprise to some, the vice president did manage to shift gears, framing their votes in a general election context.
"At the end of the day they're going to decide: is the way back to their employment, is the way back to being able to have a job and raise a family, is it under the value set and the ideas of Romney, or is it under ours?" said Biden. "And we feel confident we'll do just fine. "
Biden has a history of giving somewhat flat answers to questions about dissatisfaction with the Obama administration and its policies. Last fall, the vice president also raised eyebrows during a local interview with a Florida reporter, when he suggested that it was understandable that Floridians blamed them for the lagging economy.
"There’s a lot of people in Florida that have good reason to be upset because they’ve lost jobs," Biden said. "Even though 50 some percent of the American people think the economy tanked because of the last administration, that's not relevant. What’s relevant is, we’re in charge. And right now, we are the ones in charge, and it’s gotten better but it hasn't gotten good enough. And in states like Florida it's even been more stagnant because of the real estate market."
Continued Biden, "And so I don’t blame them for being mad. We’re in charge, so they’re angry."