Vice President Joe Biden is pouncing on Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney in swing state Ohio, casting him as a corporate raider more interested in making profits than in the needs of workers.
In a speech Wednesday in Youngstown, Ohio, Biden struck hard at Romney, picking up on an attack line set this week in ads by President Barack Obama's campaign and by a super political action committee supporting the president's re-election.
Biden cast the race as one between an Obama vision that promotes fairness and a Romney ideology that helps the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. It's a strategy that combines an attack on Romney with a sunny appraisal of the country's future under Obama.
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams, who attended Biden's speech in Youngstown, fired back, saying that while Romney has proved to be a successful businessman, Obama and Biden made promises to turn around the economy that haven’t been kept.
“Their liberal economic policies have failed to deliver on those promises, and voters are looking for a change in November,” Williams said.
The Obama administration “values the role of workers,” while Romney’s approach is “as long as the government helps the guys at the top to do well, workers and small businesses and communities, they can fend for themselves,” Biden said in a speech at M-7 Technologies, a closely-held manufacturing company with 30 employees.
In 1977, Youngstown Sheet & Tube announced shutdowns marking the end of the area’s steel era. Youngstown is located in Mahoning Valley, a region in Eastern Ohio that gave Obama 58.5 percent of the vote in 2008.
“Nobody knows better than the people of the Valley the consequences of that kind of philosophy,” Biden said in his speech. “You’ve been through hell and back. Outsourcing. Padlocked plant gates. Closed businesses in your communities.”
Romney, campaigning in St. Petersburg, Fla., attacked Obama for swelling the federal debt, saying the president has done “almost nothing to fix” the deficits amassed over eight years by former President George W. Bush.
Obama as a candidate “was very critical of his predecessor, because the predecessor put together $4 trillion of debt over eight years,” Romney said in a speech in St. Petersburg, where he began a two-day campaign and fundraising swing through Florida, a hotly contested state. “He said that doing that was unpatriotic — irresponsible and unpatriotic — and he said he would cut the debt in half if he became president. Instead he doubled it.”
Biden's Youngstown speech comes a day after Romney portrayed Obama as an agent of reckless spending who is leading the country toward a threatening debt crisis.
The back and forth illustrates the power of the economy as the dominant campaign issue this year, leaving voters to decide whether the slow recovery represents a success or a failure.
In his speech, Biden contrasted the Obama administration’s economic efforts, including a rescue of the domestic auto industry in 2008-09, with Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital LLC, the private equity firm that the former Massachusetts governor co-founded. Biden cited companies that Bain acquired that eventually went bankrupt.
“Romney made sure the guys on top got to play by a separate set of rules, he ran up massive debts, and the middle class lost,” said Biden, who spent the first part of his childhood in Scranton, Pa., another manufacturing-based city. “And folks, he thinks that experience is going to help our economy?”
Romney, speaking the day after Bush made an impromptu endorsement of him as he boarded an elevator in Washington, said while Republicans and Democrats share blame for running up deficits, Obama has made the problem worse.
“It sure is true that you can’t blame one party or the other for all the debts that this country has, because both parties, in my opinion, spent too much and borrowed too much when they were in power,” Romney told about 400 voters at the Mirror Lake Lyceum, a banquet hall in downtown St. Petersburg, where he spoke in front of a digital clock displaying the national debt and each taxpayer’s share of it.
© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.