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Biden, in Wisconsin, goes after Romney on education


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- Reaching out to college-age voters Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden pitched the Obama administration's goals for improving the nation's education system and accused the Republican ticket of ignoring the issue entirely.

"Listen to what they say," Biden said of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in remarks to about 3,000 on the campus of the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. "They hardly mention education at all except in the negative context."

The vice president accused Ryan of teeing up "massive cuts" to early education and Pell grant funding in his budget, and he argued that the GOP ticket would allow commercial banks back into the federal student loan market.

"They want to go back and have the banks be in charge of negotiating and processing your loans, costing the government 60 billion dollars in payment to the banks over the next ten years," Biden told the crowd.

Listing off items like teacher recruitment, student loan repayment caps, and scholarship funding, Biden pledged that "by the year 2020 we are determined that we will once again have the highest percentage of college graduates of any nation in the world.”

Romney, who touched on education policy during a Virginia rally today, and Ryan have focused mainly on policy issues like school choice and accountability for schools. While Ryan's budget addresses changes in education funding, the candidate himself has not laid out specific education cuts. 

"During President Obama's disappointing term in office the cost of college has skyrocketed and an increasing number of recent graduates are being forced to move back in with their parents because they can't find a job," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said. "Vice President Biden is launching more dishonest attacks because he can't defend the Obama administration's abysmal education record and he is incapable of having a serious discussion about education policy. As president, Mitt Romney will work to make college more affordable and accessible for all students, and implement pro-growth policies that will create jobs for them when they graduate."

The recent teachers' strike in Obama's hometown of Chicago has cast a spotlight on education policy in the campaign, although Biden did not mention it in his remarks Thursday.

The vice president received a warm welcome from the mostly younger crowd in Wisconsin, his third trip the state this campaign cycle and his second since Ryan, a Wisconsin native, was picked as Romney's running mate.

He won applause for joking that he's "supposedly an expert on foreign policy," quipping that "an expert is anyone from out of town with a briefcase."

Biden's next campaign trip to a swing state will be a two-day tour of Iowa early next week.