VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden said Thursday that he will vigorously challenge his Republican counterpart Sarah Palin on the issues, but will refrain from personal attacks.
Biden made the remarks Thursday in response to a question from a woman who attended his forum on national security and veterans issues in military-heavy Virginia Beach. The questioner said she realized it's tricky for a male candidate to debate a woman but implored Biden to "please promise me you'll go after her the same way...."
The rest of the question was downed out by applause and cheers.
"The way I was raised is: I never, ever, ever attack the other person," Biden said, adding that probably was not what many his fellow Democrats want to hear. "I will take issue with her as strongly as I can."
Biden said that has been his approach through 13 presidential debates.
"I'm not good at the one-line zingers. That's not my deal," Biden said.
Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention was packed with zingers, and Biden said he was impressed with the way she delivered it.
"I think she's going to be an incredibly competent debater," he said.
However, he said he noticed Palin never mentioned health care, education or the middle class.
He said in response to another question that the middle class would be better off economically under Democrat Barack Obama than Republican John McCain.
"Ninety-five percent of American households' taxes will go down," he said. "If you're making $250,000 a year - and I hope you are - we don't have a tax cut for you."
Economic issues were on the agenda for a forum later in the day in Manassas, Va. The morning event was dominated by veterans and military matters. Those are big issues in the region, which is home to several military installations, including the world's largest Navy base.
The military presence would seem to benefit McCain, a former Navy aviator who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. McCain refused offers of early release and returned home on crutches and unable to lift his arms.
Biden said he's never known anyone more courageous than McCain, his longtime Senate colleague, but he said Obama already has demonstrated better judgment on military and foreign policy matters. It's a claim Biden has been making to counter Republican criticism about Obama's lack of experience.
"Experience only matters if you couple it with judgment," Biden said.
Brigadier Gen. David McGinnis, chief of staff of the National Guard Association and one of six participants in the forum, said he believes Obama is well qualified to be commander in chief because he has a strong grasp of strategy.
"He has a demeanor that is unbelievably cool," McGinnis said.
Biden also said the nation's leaders have a "sacred obligation" to care for the soldiers they deploy and the ones who come home - an obligation he said the Bush administration has not met.