Liberals are blasting Vice President Joseph R. Biden for extolling the firepower and reliability of old-school shotguns — while apparently undermining the White House's push for more comprehensive gun control.
Mr. Biden's turn as a pump-action pitchman during a Facebook video chat with Parents Magazine is hardly the first time he's has muddied a White House message by veering off topic — an occurrence so regular that websites are devoted to tracking his controversial quips.
The vice president set Twitter and the blogosphere ablaze by insisting during the Parents Magazine chat that assault rifles are unreliable, and that all a real man or woman needs for protection is a shotgun.
"If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun. You don't need an AR-15," Mr. Biden said Tuesday during a Facebook town hall hosted by Parents Magazine. "You don't need an AR-15. It's harder to aim; it's harder to use. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun!"
In fact, the man with Secret Service protection feels so strongly about the merits of shotgun security, he's advised his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, to keep a Remington at the ready.
"[I said to Jill] if there's ever a problem here, just walk out on the balcony, here, walk out, put that double barrel shotgun and just fire two blasts outside the house," Mr. Biden said. "You don't need an [assault rifle]."
Many liberals issued a collective groan online after Mr. Biden's riff, sensing his pro-shotgun stance convoluted President Obama's push to tighten gun-control regulations in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
"#JoeBiden today: Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun! Says it all about our gun ctrl charade — the 'liberal' party loves guns too, just diff. ones," liberal comic Bill Maher bemoaned.
Mr. Maher's sentiments were echoed elsewhere: "You're not helping, Joe," chimed another Twitter user.
Some of Mr. Biden's off-message highlights include:
• Overshadowing Mr. Obama signing sweeping health care reform into law by chirping into an open microphone that the occasion was "A big [expletive] deal!"
• Jumping ahead of the president in publicly voicing support for gay marriage, forcing him to apologize.
• Raising eyebrows during a diplomatic mission to the Ukraine, by insisting Ukrainian women are "the most beautiful women in the world. That's my observation. ... It's certain you have so many beautiful women."
• Undermining his selection as Mr. Obama's running mate in 2008: "Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. Quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me."
Still, Mr. Biden's gift for gab delivered one of the most memorable zingers of the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign when he bashed Republican Rudy Giuliani during a Democratic debate: "Rudy Giuliani, there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11. There's nothing else."
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