Updated 2:22 p.m. - CHESTERFIELD, VA -- Vice President Joe Biden continued on Tuesday to hammer away at Mitt Romney's secretly-taped riff about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes, ridiculing the GOP presidential nominee as failing to represent all Americans.
"When he said it’s not my job to worry about ‘these people,’ well, whose job is it?" Biden asked of a crowd of about 500 at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are our brother’s keeper, we are one nation under God, we are all in this together, and if the 47 percent doesn’t make it, the country doesn’t make it."
Biden, who delivered his first salvo about the taped Romney fundraiser comments this weekend in New Hampshire, offered an extended critique of Romney's own level of tax contributions and said that those in the "47 percent" still pay "a lot of taxes" like Social Security, state and local, and property payments.
"Look, instead of attacking folks who work for a living and pay their way, Romney should be respecting their hard work," he said. "That’s the job of a president: to lift people up, not to tear them down."
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In the final push in the 2012 presidential election, candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama make their last appeals to voters.
He also noted that Romney has been widely criticized for failing to release more detailed information from his past tax returns and for paying a lower tax rate than many middle class Americans. (However, Romney's most recent release of some 2011 data showed that the former private equity exec limited deductions from his extensive charitable donations and thus paid a higher-than-required effective rate of about 14 percent.)
"He, Romney? Attacking someone on taxes? I mean, woah!" said the famously rhetorically excitable Delaware pol. "That’s like me attacking someone for being passionate in politics!"
The trip to Virginia was Biden's first since the campaign swing when Biden sparked a firestorm after remarking to a largely black audience in Danville that the banking policies supported by Republicans would "put y'all back in chains."
The vice president did not use similar themes today, focusing instead on the Romney-Ryan ticket's reluctance to raise taxes as a way of addressing the federal deficit.
"These guys think compromise is somehow a dirty word," Biden said. "They are insisting and Romney is insisting on putting back in policies that produced the problem in the first place. “
Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams responded: "President Obama and Vice President Biden’s reckless policies have increased our national debt by $5.4 trillion and resulted in dangerously high unemployment, increased poverty, and plummeting incomes. This election presents a clear choice between Barack Obama’s vision of a government-centered society and Mitt Romney’s vision of an opportunity society. Governor Romney will spur economic growth and create more wealth, while President Obama believes in redistributing wealth. The Romney plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million jobs and encourage upward mobility instead of more government dependency."