Vice President Joe Biden drew cheers from the country's biggest civil rights group on Thursday with a fiery defense of President Barack Obama's record, and warned that the election of Republican Mitt Romney could reverse years of economic and civil rights gains for blacks.
The day after Romney was booed during an appearance before the convention of the NAACP, Biden asked the crowd to imagine what a conservative Romney presidency would mean for the Justice Department, the Supreme Court and voting rights.
"This is not your father's Republican Party," said Biden, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He condemned Republican support for voter ID laws that critics say will disenfranchise many black voters.
"Did you think we'd be fighting these battles again?" he asked the crowd, which roared "No!" in reply. "When you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things."
Romney drew boos from the NAACP audience on Wednesday for blasting Obama's healthcare overhaul and his leadership on the economy. Romney promised he could improve life for blacks by turning around the economy and cutting unemployment - at 14.4 percent for blacks compared to the national average of 8.2 percent.
But Biden said Obama had made the tough decisions that pulled the economy out of recession with his economic stimulus plan and auto industry bailout.
"He continues to be driven by the character of his convictions," Biden said.
Blacks are the most reliable Democratic voting bloc, and more than 95 percent backed Obama in 2008. Polls show Obama, the first black U.S. president, has similar levels of support among African Americans this year.
Obama will not attend the NAACP convention this year, with Biden speaking instead. Obama appeared in a brief, taped video message to the convention, and he will address the National Urban League later in the month.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.