(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that it’s understandable why 40 percent of Democrats in this month’s West Virginia presidential primary opted for a convicted felon serving time in a Texas prison over incumbent President Barack Obama.
“When you’re out of work, man, it’s a depression. And a lot of people are still hurting 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,” Biden said in an interview with WTOV-TV in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio.
“At the end of the day, they’re going to decide, is the way back to their employment, is the way back to them 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?” he said. “And we feel confident we’ll do just fine.”
Biden’s response — that he doesn’t “blame people” for supporting the felon — diverges from the case that some national Democrats made in the wake of the vote, suggesting that the outcome likely reflected racial opposition to Obama. It also seemed to part with efforts by top Democratic leaders to project a sense of party unity as the campaign heads toward November.
While Obama has never been widely popular in West Virginia, the fact that Keith Russell Judd — an inmate at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Beaumont, Texas — scored roughly 49,000 votes to Obama’s more than 67,000 raised some eyebrows.
Judd is serving time for extortion and threats made at the University of New Mexico in 1999. Neither he nor Obama campaigned in the state ahead of the May 8 vote.
Obama campaign officials have pointed out that in spite of Judd, Obama won more overall votes in the primary than did Mitt Romney, who won roughly 51,000.
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