At Va. Stop, Biden Blasts GOP Ties To Wall Street

Vice President Joe Biden is on a campaign tour of Virginia, which is a key swing state in the presidential race. Biden seized on Republican challenger Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate. Biden said it shows what the Republican ticket really stands for.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

Well, it is VP against VP-hopeful. Vice President Joe Biden is touring Virginia, a key presidential swing state. And yesterday, Biden seized on Mitt Romney's choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as a running mate, saying it shows what the Republican ticket really stands for. In a moment, Ryan's day on the campaign trail.

First to NPR's Larry Abramson, who's traveling with Vice President Biden.

LARRY ABRAMSON, BYLINE: Some in the handpicked crowd of Obama supporters gathered in Danville, Virginia say they know who Paul Ryan is. Retired teacher Crystal Gregory says she knows just what Ryan has in store.

CRYSTAL GREGORY: Because I have read the Ryan budget.

ABRAMSON: Crystal Gregory says she's supporting the Obama ticket because the budget plan proposed by Congressman Ryan - which never became law - would change Medicare into a voucher program.

GREGORY: And since the mission of the Ryan budget is to change Medicare as we know it, and the mission of many people in the Republican Party is to privatize Social Security. I want to make sure that that doesn't happen.

ABRAMSON: The vice president picked up on that concern. He took the stage at a local institute meant to spur job growth here, in an area still suffering from the loss of dying industries like textiles and furniture manufacturing. Biden said the selection of Ryan confirms that the loyalties of the likely Republican nominee are to Wall Street.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: He's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street. He's going to put y'all back in chains.

ABRAMSON: The crowd's reaction was muted, but the Romney campaign quickly seized on the statement, saying it marked, quote, "a new low." Romney himself later said this in Ohio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

MITT ROMNEY: This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like.

ABRAMSON: The implication was that Biden was appealing to the fears of African-Americans, who easily made up half the audience, but neither campaign made any direct reference to race. The Biden tour moved on.

BIDEN: I'd love some of your world famous hot dogs.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All right.

BIDEN: That's not a punishment, man.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMSON: At the Coffee Break Restaurant in Stuart, Virginia, Biden did the eat-some-local-food thing. Then he stepped outside and went after the female vote. He pointed his blues at one woman and asked: Where did you get those eyes?

BIDEN: You are trouble. I can tell.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, yes. She is trouble.

BIDEN: Your mom and your dad...

ABRAMSON: The Veep regaled the rest of the crowd with more attacks on the Romney team, for backing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. He spoke to them of his blue collar roots, and showered them with a few y'alls for good measure.

When Biden showed up at Spiller Elementary School in Wytheville, Virginia, his motorcade zoomed by a phalanx of Romney supporters. No to a tyranny of debt, read one hostile sign.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ABRAMSON: Inside the school gym, Biden reminded supporters that his wife Jill is a teacher, and he spoke of the administration's support for increased education funding. And he turned again to Congressman Ryan, his new competitor for the number two job.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

BIDEN: Here's what Congressman Ryan said. He said: We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle the economy. The last time these guys unshackled the economy, to use their term, they put the middle-class in shackles. That's how we got to where we are.

ABRAMSON: The vice president blamed Republicans for creating the imagery of shackles, and said he was just turning it back on them. Biden's remarks do show that much of this campaign is focused on the language of fear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

BIDEN: How many of you know someone tonight who's going to go to bed staring at the ceiling and literally wondering whether or not they're going to be able to be in that house six months from now?

ABRAMSON: Biden said the foreclosure crisis was the cause of that fear, but his opponents have invoked similar images and blamed them on the current administration. Biden's Virginia tour wraps up in Blacksburg today.

Larry Abramson, NPR News.

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