MARTIN'S FERRY, OH -- Republicans say they understand the middle class. Joe Biden says, "C'mon man!"
On the second day of a two-day tour of eastern Ohio, the vice president -- wearing his characteristic aviator sunglasses -- continued to hit GOP nominee Mitt Romney for his tenure at the helm of an investment group, saying that the former governor's role in creating wealth for investors doesn't qualify him to be the president.
"It's their job to create wealth for the investors," Biden said of investment firms like Bain Capital, which Romney cofounded. "If it creates jobs in the process, good! If it costs all the jobs in the process, okay!"
"But that's not the job of a president of the United States of America," he said. "The job is much bigger than that."
Criticism of big firms like Bain doesn't reflect a disdain for profit, Biden said, but a focus on economic opportunity.
"We're not anti-capitalist, for God's sake, it's the system that built the country!" he said.
Alternatively, Biden painted Romney's philosophy as one with "two sets of rules: one for his wealthy investors and the other for everybody else."
And he differentiated "us" -- meaning the mostly blue-collar Democratic audience of about 450 assembled outside a small town auto dealership -- from Republicans like Romney who only favor "the guys at the top."
"They all think that the guys at the top are the smart guys and if they just get it right everything else will work." he said. "We think this works the other way around. That's the history of the Valley, man."
Reprising his critique yesterday of the GOP's cries of "class warfare," he said he's "tired" of being characterized negatively for his middle class background.
"They call me Middle Class Joe like that's somehow 'oh I'm 'ol Joe and I don't dream,'" he exclaimed, "C'mon man!"
(Biden, who was notably fiery yesterday when making the same argument, acknowledged in his remarks that he would "say it more calmly" to Thursday's audience, but his crescendoing voice offered scant evidence that he followed his own advice.)
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams responded: "President Obama and his campaign can only resort to misleading attacks on Mitt Romney. Americans deserve better than President Obama’s liberal policies that have failed to get America back on track.”
The vice president was met by several dozen pro-coal-industry protestors who stood at a distance outside the event, with chants of "Uncle Joe must go!" sometimes audible during Biden's remarks. He did not mention coal during his speech, and one reporter who attempted to ask him a question on the topic as Biden greeted supporters after the event was asked by staff to return to a designated press area.
Biden's appearance at Staffilino's Chevrolet dealership was intended to underscore the Obama administration's efforts to revive the car industry as it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy.
Speaking in front of three Chevy Cruzes, the jacketless veep praised American ingenuity and mocked Romney for "taking credit" for the revival of the industry because he promoted the idea of "managed bankruptcy."
"Well, I will take an awful lot of credit for a man having landed on the moon," Biden said to laughter. "I was in school. I rooted for it!"