Sens. Joe Biden and Barack Obama
Susan Walsh  /  AP
Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., left, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., spoke on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007 during the committee's hearing on Iraq.
updated 2/1/2007 10:16:45 AM ET 2007-02-01T15:16:45

Backpedaling furiously, Sen. Joe Biden said he really meant to say "fresh" instead of "clean" in describing Democratic presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama. Appearing on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" late Wednesday, Biden said: "Look, the other part of this thing that got me in trouble is using the word clean. I should have said fresh. What I meant was that he's got new ideas, he's a new guy on the block ... "

But then Biden trailed off as he stared into Stewart's deadpan face. "It's not working, right?" the Delaware senator asked to much laughter from the show's audience.

In an interview published Wednesday in the New York Observer, the same day he officially entered the presidential race, Biden described Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

The Illinois senator spoke privately to Biden and later released a statement saying he didn't take his colleague's remarks personally, but objected to the way they seemed to undercut past black presidential candidates.

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"Let me tell you something I spoke to Barack today," Biden told Stewart.

"I bet you did," Stewart quipped.

"I also spoke to Jesse (Jackson) and Al Sharpton," Biden said.

"And Michael Jordan and anybody you could get your hands on. The Jackson Five," Stewart said, interrupting.

"Michael didn't call me," Biden said. "Look, what I was attempting to be, but not very artfully, is complimentary. This is an incredible guy. This is a phenomenon."

It's the second presidential bid for the talkative Biden, who pursued the White House in 1988, but withdrew from the race after allegations that his speeches contained passages from speeches given by a British political leader.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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