Republicans spent months griping about the size of the health care bill. Their talking points questioned how anybody could digest 2,700 pages.
"A big f---ing deal."
His celebratory comment to President Barack Obama during the signing ceremony was picked up by a microphone on live national TV. Those four words spread to all corners of the media, and were even a hot topic in the next morning's presidential briefing.
"You know what the best thing about yesterday was?" Obama reportedly said on Wednesday. "Joe's comment."
Biden shot back, "If you thought it was so good, why didn't you say it?"
According to Biden, who recounted the exchange during a fundraiser later that day, the president tried to have a t-shirt made with the remark but wasn't able to get one in time. Delivery may have been the only problem, as custom t-shirt makers were already taking orders within minutes of Biden's open mic gaffe.
Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun was at the fundraiser in Maryland and got Biden's reflections on what has become a hot internet meme:
With former Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D- MD) in attendance, he said, "I would have never made the faux pas I made the other day if you [Sarbanes] were still around." He said all he could think after he learned the comment had been picked up was "Thank God my mom's not ..."; the rest of comment was drowned out by laughter.
The vice president has been getting a lot of laughs recently, also bringing down the house at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner last Wednesday.
Fenton's pool report indicated that Biden went on to predict some Democratic losses in November. It continues:
Talked about recent health care legislation being passed. "The thing this portends the most is that this country is capable of handling complex, ideological divisive, consequential issues. If we were unable to move the ball on this issue, not only in the political sense might we be dead... But in terms of being able to deal with other major issues on our plate, we would've been done. Absolutely done."
"What happened two days ago represents fundamental change in an incredibly, incredibly difficult political environment."
He said "reports of the demise of the Democratic party in November are premature," to applause, but also predicted Democratic losses in the fall. He said he would be more specific if not for the reporter in the room.
"We're going to have losses. ... Barack generated such an overwhelming turnout and enthusiasm, that we had the biggest turnout in history. It was gigantic. And a lot of really good Democrats got washed up on shore and all of a sudden were Congressmen, in districts that Democrats have no business having Congressmen. I'm not here to tell you we're gaining seats. But I'm telling you, we're going to go into the second half of our administration, with a solid Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, and with the wind at our backs."
He said Republicans were dishonest about their interest in health care. "The ace we have in our pocket is the Republican party. The Republicans concluded that their success lies in our failure."
He claimed that he knows of at least seven senators who want to vote with Democrats but were instructed by the party not to. "The American people are smart. They smell a rat. They know there was nothing about trying to get a better bill."
About 60 people attended the fundraiser at Cordish's home in Lutherville, just north of Baltimore. Ticket prices started at $2,500 per person.