In eastern Ohio, Biden mounts attack on Romney's business record

The Road to the White House


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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Vice President Joe Biden renewed the Obama presidential campaign's assault on Republican Mitt Romney's business record Wednesday, portraying it as a quest for profits at the expense of ordinary workers.

In a speech at M-7 Technologies, a high-tech factory amid the manufacturing belt of the Mahoning Valley, Mr. Biden offered a few positive notes, contending that, through the auto industry bailout and other initiatives, the administration had prepared the way for a national rebound in manufacturing jobs.

"It's not just manufacturing that's coming back," he said. "The middle class is coming back. America is coming back."

But his main focus was criticism of the business resume that Mr. Romney has offered as his chief qualification for the White House. The vice president echoed the indictment of Mr. Romney contained in new Obama television commercials running in battleground states. Mr. Biden pointed to the same steel company bankruptcy spotlighted in the ad, contending that its fate showed the dangers to ordinary workers posed by the business model of Mr. Romney's former firm, Bain Capital.

"There's Obama economics, which values the role of workers in the success of a business and values the middle class in the success of the economy. A philosophy that believes everyone deserves a fair shot and a fair shake, and everybody should play by the same rules," Mr. Biden said. "And then there's Romney economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities -- they can fend for themselves."

Mr. Romney faced similar criticism during the GOP primaries, as his rivals, notably former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, regularly assailed him for Bain's investment record. Mr. Romney equated those criticisms as attacks on capitalism.

The Romney campaign countered that the attacks were an effort to distract voters from the administration's lack of accomplishment on the economy.

"The president doesn't want to talk about his record," said Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, who had joined the audience at the Youngstown plant.

The Romney campaign also distributed a news release pointing to waste and abuse in the administration's economic stimulus program and mocking the vice president's supposed role as "the sheriff" in charge of policing such abuses.

The Biden visit to eastern Ohio -- he will appear again today in Martins Ferry -- came as Crossroads GPS, a Republican super-PAC affiliated with former Bush adviser Karl Rove, was about to launch a $25 million commercial attack on the president in battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Mr. Biden was introduced by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Randy Johnson, a United Steelworkers employee whose former job at a paper factory was eliminated after Bain closed the plant.

Mr. Strickland, who lost his 2010 re-election bid to current Gov. John Kasich, credited the administration with an upsurge in employment in the Buckeye State, citing in particular the decision to inject public money into Chrysler and GM.

"Here in the valley, thousands of people are working today building the Chevy Cruze," Mr. Strickland said. "About 1 in every 8 jobs in the great state of Ohio is connected to the auto industry. ... If the president had listened to Mitt Romney, the Lordstown plant would not be employing thousands of valley workers."

Speaking from a podium emblazoned "Made in Ohio," Mr. Biden suggested that Mr. Romney had no insight into how his business decisions affected ordinary workers.

"He's a patriot; he's a generous man," Mr. Biden said of the GOP standard-bearer. "He gives to his church. He has a beautiful family. But he doesn't get it."

Mr. Biden spoke in a state once again crucial to both campaigns and one in which President Barack Obama appears to enjoy a slender lead. The latest public survey, by Quinnipiac University from May 2- 7, found Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney essentially tied, with the president leading by 45 percent to 44 percent. An average of recent survey results compiled by realClearPolitics.com, put the incumbent's lead in Ohio at just under 5 percent.

[An earlier version of this story was published the afternoon of May 16: "Biden rips Romney's business background in Youngstown."]

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Politics editor James O'Toole: jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.


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