NEWPORT, Ky. — Sen. Joe Biden said that if he runs for president, he intends to aggressively defend his own values as well as those of the Democratic Party.

"I am so sick and tired of this pontificating about us not being the party of faith," said Biden, a Roman Catholic. "The next Republican that tells me I'm not religious, I'm going to shove my rosary beads down their throat."

The fiery Delaware Democrat, who has served in the Senate since the Nixon administration, said he is determining whether he can raise the money needed for a presidential run in 2008.

Biden appeared Saturday at fund-raisers for the Democratic Party in mostly Republican northern Kentucky.

He said that in most cases, Democrats have themselves to blame for losing in so-called red states such as Kentucky and Ohio.

"We have put up too many candidates who can't connect with middle-class Americans." — people who live in working-class neighborhoods ... people who make between $50,000 and $150,000 a year and couples trying to figure out how they are going to pay tuition for their kids," Biden said.

"And we have played into the hands of the Republicans," he said. "We've allowed so-called social issues to be so divisive."