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Joe Biden goes to bat for Steve Israel

Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday night touted Rep. Steve Israel as "one of the serious people" in Congress during a Manhattan fundraiser for the Huntington Democrat.

"Steve Israel is one of the serious people," Biden told the crowd of about 100. "He's not only a good guy, he's a serious force in the United States Congress."

Biden spent much of his 30-minute address telling the crowd that the Obama administration's economic policy will help improve the economic situation for the middle class.

He touted the Obama administration's progress since taking office in January. "I don't think any of us realized how deep the hole was when we got elected in November," he said. "The truth of the matter is it is amazing we're in the situation we're in. We still have a long, long, long way to go."

The event, which carried a ticket price of $2,400, was expected to raise about $240,000 for Israel's campaign. The campaign has $1.79 million at its disposal, according to the campaign finance report filed earlier this month.

Biden's appearance comes five months after the administration persuaded Israel to abandon a primary challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Though neither man mentioned Gillibrand, Biden noted that Israel - who cleared 60 percent of the vote in his last two elections - does not really need his help to get re-elected.

"He doesn't need me up here," Biden said. "I just want you to know that supporting him is a smart investment."

Israel said the Obama administration's positions and decisions on energy policy and climate change will determine the fate of the majority of the world's people. He praised Biden and Congress for passing the recent climate change bill but warned that more must be done. "If we screw this up," Israel said, "seven billion of nine billion people on this earth will be living in horrible conditions in the future."

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