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Biden: 'America is better off' after first Obama term

In Charlotte, Democrats are poised to insist that their economic vision is better for America than that outlined by Mitt Romney; they insist the country is better off than it was four years ago. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

 

DETROIT -- Amid a GOP-driven effort asking whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago, Vice President Joe Biden emphatically declared that "America is better off" now than at the end of the Bush administration.

"Folks, let me say something to you, say it to the press," Biden said at the conclusion of his remarks at a Labor Day rally here in the Motor City. "America is better off today than they left us when they left!"

The question, a staple of elections in which an incumbent is seeking re-election, has developed into a small media imbroglio since surrogates for President Barack Obama appeared hesitant this weekend to give a positive answer.

Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley answered that question with a "no"; Obama advisers David Axelrod and David Plouffe offered nuanced responses but not a flat "yes."

Republicans pounced in the meanwhile, and the GOP held a press conference today in Charlotte, the site of the Democratic National Convention, to push that very question.

Biden's statement makes him the highest-ranking Obama surrogate to weigh in on the back and forth. 

Repeating his frequent "bumper sticker" mantra, Biden said in Detroit: "If you want to know whether we're better off, I got a bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!"

Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in response: "Today, Vice President Biden claimed that Americans are better off than they were four years ago, directly contradicting what President Obama and his campaign surrogates have said. The truth is that the middle class has been crushed in the Obama economy."

Biden, who spoke to several hundred supporters at the AFL-CIO-sponsored event, focused heavily on labor issues in his remarks and blasted Romney for opposing the Obama-backed bailout of the auto industry.

"Folks, you can't say you're going to create jobs in the United States of America when you were willing to let 1m jobs go under by the liquidation of the automobile plants he suggested," Biden said.

He also went after Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, repeating a line first debuted yesterday in Pennsylvania to attack the Wisconsin congressman's Medicare plans.

"We're talking about making sure to protect Medicare. They're talking about creating an entire new system, 'Vouchercare,'" he said, warning "if they win, people are in trouble."