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Biden knocks Romney in address to NAACP

HOUSTON -- The same audience that booed Mitt Romney yesterday chided Vice President Joe Biden today, but only for ending a laundry list of the Obama administration's accomplishments.

When Biden said he was wrapping up these accomplishments, the audience of a few thousand delegates at the NAACP's annual convention shouted "No!" -- capping off a warmly received address, which warned that a Romney presidency would mean voter suppression, health care "controlled by the insurance companies," and tax hikes on millions of African American families.

Pat Sullivan / AP

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the NAACP annual convention, Thursday, July 12, 2012, in Houston.

Biden, who spoke in lieu of an address from the first black president himself, urged delegates to envision the Justice Department under a Romney administration and warned that advances in civil rights would be erased if Republicans prevail in November.

"Imagine what the Romney Justice Department will look like. Imagine when his senior adviser on constitutional issues is Robert Bork," Biden said, invoking the conservative Supreme Court nominee he famously battled against in the Senate. "Imagine the recommendations for who is likely to be picked as attorney general."

"Did you think we'd be fighting these battles again?" Biden asked.

Eric Holder, the first African American to hold the position as the nation's top law enforcement officer, spoke to the group earlier this week. Biden said that Holder and the president - unlike Republicans - want voting rights to be "expanded not diminished."

Citing Romney's proposed elimination of some tax breaks as a part of his fiscal plan, Biden claimed that a Romney presidency would result in bigger checks to the IRS out of African Americans' wallets.

"He eliminates college tuition tax credit. The earned income tax credit and the child tax credit are cut," Biden said. "The result: 2.2 million African Americans working families will see a tax increase if he succeeds. That's a fact."

Obama did not address the group due to scheduling concerns, according to the campaign, although he has no public events today. The president did appear in the form of a taped video before Biden's speech.

The large convention center ballroom was only about two-thirds full for Biden's speech. Organizers blamed the empty seats on early morning flash flooding that affected delegates' transportation to the event venue.

Attendees praised both Biden and Romney for addressing the mostly Democratic-leaning organization.

"It was a family affair, a family connection," said community development officer Alan Watkins of Houston, who said he did not fault Obama for not appearing in person. "I completely understand that the president is busy, The fact that he sent his next person in line was great."

Charles Warfield, an NAACP chapter president for Kalamazoo, Mich., said that Biden served as an effective emissary precisely because he is not African-American.

"He probably was a better choice for this convention because it would have made Barack look like, because he's black and we're black that we are in sync with everything," Warfield said. "But Vice President Biden hit every nail on the head."

Warfield lauded Romney for speaking to the group yesterday, despite broadly disagreeing with the GOP presidential nominee's agenda.

That sentiment was echoed by Marcus Barnum, a Houston financial adviser.

"I applaud his effort coming to an event such as this, because we need to hear from him," Barnum said. "I think it's important for him to try to win our vote as well."