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In Iowa, Biden goes after Romney on outsourcing


DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The folksy, shirt-sleeved assault on Mitt Romney continues.

Vice President Joe Biden, who's serving a stint as the Obama administration's top campaigner, assailed the Republican candidate again Wednesday in his third campaign speech in two weeks, this time portraying Romney as a prolific outsourcer of American jobs who is pessimistic and "out of touch" with the manufacturing sector.

"America is coming back," a jacket-less Biden declared to about 450 guests at an eastern Iowa high-tech manufacturing facility Wednesday. "It's not a political slogan. It's a reality."

Despite making a tongue-in-cheek reference to Romney's "Etch-a-Sketch" flip-flops during a speech to Florida seniors last week, today Biden labeled the president's rival-in-waiting as "remarkably consistent" but "wrong" on job creation.

"Mitt Romney has been remarkably consistent -- as an individual investor, a businessman, as governor of Massachusetts, and now as a candidate for president," he said. "Remarkably consistent. And I respectfully suggest, consistently wrong."

The vice president specifically skewered Romney's record on tax cuts and business legislation, saying policies he supported as governor and during his tenure at Bain Capital encouraged American companies to push facilities and jobs offshore.

Biden did not mention Romney's personal wealth -- thrust back into the news cycle yesterday by new details of the lavish home that the former Massachusetts governor is building in California -- but he did ridicule the president's rival for calling Obama "out of touch" when encouraging young people to pursue manufacturing jobs.

"Out of touch? Romney?" he added incredulously. "As an old friend of mine says, that's chutzpah."

While Biden has previously made specific reference to all of the Republicans still fighting in the GOP race (other than Ron Paul), he mentioned only Romney and Rick Santorum by name Wednesday, leaving Newt Gingrich completely off the list. (The campaign also distributed a four-page research document to reporters focused solely on contrasting Obama and Romney's records on manufacturing issues.)

Despite reserving most of his fire for Romney, Biden also slammed Santorum, who hopes to be competitive in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary in the manufacturing-heavy state where both Santorum and Biden have roots.

"Sen. Santorum is the only one even claiming to support manufacturing," he said. "But he voted for loopholes to send American manufacturing offshore."

Appearing at PCT Engineered Systems, a Davenport company that makes electron beam systems and employs about 70 workers, Biden offered an optimistic picture of the American economy.

"I've never been more optimistic in my life for the prospects for America," he said.

Biden's visit came on both familiar and friendly territory for the campaign's top surrogate, who visited the state of Iowa some 30 times during his own run for president in 2007. Obama beat McCain in Davenport's Scott County by a 15 point margin in the general election.

The speech was his third in a series of four campaign events. Biden previously visited Ohio and Florida to tout the administration's achievements.