July 30, 2014

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Joe Biden stumps in Lorain as he vies for crucial Ohio

LORAIN — Vice President Joe Biden told the boisterous crowd packed into the Lorain High School gym Monday that they are key to President Barack Obama’s re-election effort.

“Folks, we need you,” Biden said as he wrapped up his half-hour long speech. “Together we can win Ohio and we win Ohio, we win this election.”

Ohio, considered a crucial swing state by both sides, has become ground zero for the presidential campaign in the run-up to Election Day with multiple visits by Obama and Biden as well as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. Biden kicked off a campaign swing through the state Monday with events in Canton, Lorain and Toledo.

While he was warming up the crowd for Biden, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland called Ohio “the tip of the spear.”

Biden said he and Obama have “profound” differences of opinion with their Republican opponents on how to fix the problems facing the nation, including on whether American troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan by 2014, which the president has promised to do.

He said the president supports adding teachers, making education affordable, expanding coal and natural gas jobs and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Obama, Biden said, is pushing to help underwater mortgage holders by trying to get them lower interest rates, something he said the Republicans claim is unfair to banks.

Biden also accused Republicans of holding middle class tax cuts hostage to ensure tax cuts for the nation’s 120,000 richest families. He complained that many Republicans have signed pledges pushed by Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist not to raise taxes under any circumstance.

“They should be signing a pledge to you, to middle class America, that we will not raise your taxes, that we will level the playing field, that we will give you a fair shot again,” Biden said to applause. “That’s the pledge the president and I have signed.”

Biden said if Romney wins, the Republicans will end much of the progress Obama has made during his term, including rolling back financial regulations imposed in recent years.

“He will allow Wall Street to be a casino again and he’s gonna allow the banks to write their own rules, and on top of that, he adds another $2 trillion in tax cuts for the very wealthy,” Biden said. “Folks, we have seen this movie before. We know how it ends. It ends with a catastrophe for the middle class. The American people will not go back.”

Biden also accused Romney of outsourcing jobs both during his tenure at the helm of Bain Capital and while he was governor of Massachusetts.

He said while Romney was leading the state, Massachusetts was paying a company to handle calls from people checking their eligibility for food stamps, but the call center was overseas. When the Massachusetts legislature sent Romney a bill that would bar outsourcing state-contracted jobs, Romney vetoed it, Biden said.

The independent fact-checking organization PolitiFact rated a similar ad by the Obama campaign as half-true, noting that while the call center was indeed in India, it was the state contractor, not the state, that made the decision where it would be located. But PolitiFact pointed out that Romney left the policy in place by vetoing the legislation.

But given Romney’s record, Biden said he doubted Romney would follow through on his campaign rhetoric to challenge China on economic issues.

“He’s getting tough on China? C’mon, man, c’mon” Biden said. “This guy is the prince of outsourcing.”

Biden said he and Obama both want to implement tax breaks for companies that bring jobs back to the United States. He argued that the president’s economic policies have led to a resurgence in the auto and steel industries, pointing out new jobs have come to Republic Steel in Lorain.

Biden also deployed Obama’s recent attacks on Romney’s shifting positions on issues, saying the Republican candidate suffered from “Romnesia” in discussing tax breaks he plans to enact if elected.

“He’s got a heck of a case of Romnesia,” Biden said drawing laughs. “But here’s the thing, it’s contagious. Ryan has it now.”

Biden said Ryan and Romney aren’t being truthful about how their plan to increase defense spending while cutting taxes will work. The Republicans have been criticized in the past for not sharing details of their plan, which Biden said will hurt Medicare benefits.

Biden also attacked Romney’s much-maligned line from the second presidential debate in which he described asking women’s groups for help when trying to find qualified candidates for his cabinet in Massachusetts and receiving binders full of women’s resumes.

Biden said both he and Obama supported equal pay for women. He said his daughters and granddaughters should have the same chance to succeed as his sons and grandsons.

“We’ve moved beyond this with women in America and we’re not going back,” he said. “Women will not allow us to go back. Men will not allow us to go back.”

The vice president warned that the make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court would shift to the right if Romney wins in November.

“Gov. Romney and Ryan they made it very clear that they don’t believe a woman has a right to control her own body,” he said, arguing the Republicans want to give more power to insurance companies.

Biden also said Obama has the strength of character to continue leading the nation.

“My guy’s got character,” Biden said. “He has courage in his soul. This man’s got compassion in his heart and he’s got steel in his spine.”

Biden also met briefly with local high school students and leaders before leaving for his next event in Toledo.

Local union leader Joe Thayer said he got the vice president to sign his ticket to the event for his 11-year-old daughter during his brief chat with Biden. He said the event was just what Lorain Democrats needed heading into the final two weeks of the campaign season.

“I think he did a hell of a job of firing people up,” Thayer said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.