Vice President Joseph R. Biden is not mincing words about his views of Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Cruz and Paul, the vice president said, are largely responsible for the huge gap in Congress between Democrats and Republicans, and the impasse on many key issues.

At a fundraiser Tuesday night for Rep. Edward Markey –a Democrat who is running in Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry after he became Secretary of State– Biden said conservatives like Cruz and Paul are making more moderate Republicans afraid to side with Democrats on many issues. Cruz is from Texas and Paul is from Kentucky.

“I’m not talking about the character or even the quality of the minds of the people I’m going to mention,” said Biden, according to published reports. “But the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky — or the old senator from Kentucky.”

Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.

- Vice President Joe Biden, speaking about GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul

Biden brought up background checks for gun purchases as an example.

“Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole,” Biden said. “On the gun issue, I don’t care what your position is — I called 17 senators out, nine of whom were Republicans. Not one of (them) offered an explanation on the merits of why they couldn’t vote for the background check. But almost to a person, they said, ‘I don’t want to take on Ted Cruz. I don’t want to take on Rand Paul. They’ll be in my district.’”

Biden said the reaction took him aback.

“I actually said, ‘Are you kidding? These are two freshman,’” Biden said. “This is a different party, folks. They’re not bad guys, and they’re both very bright guys. And I’m not questioning their motive.”

Roll Call, a political publication, said that Cruz’s office sent a written statement calling Biden “out of touch.”

“Vice President Biden is a good man but he’s out of touch on the economy, the Constitution, and the size and scope of government,” the statement said. “Democrats are clearly concerned by Republicans who are waking up and starting to fight, and making an impact. Senator Cruz will keep fighting and doing what he promised Texans. He’s proud to play a role getting the country back to the principles that have made it the wonder of the world.”

Markey is running against Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL, in a special election on June 25.

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