Biden, Romney spar over economic policy
By Eric Johnson
CHICAGO — Vice President Joe Biden, in his first public criticism of a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, criticized Mitt Romney’s economic policies in an opinion piece in Iowa’s biggest newspaper on Friday.
“Romney appears satisfied to settle for an economy in which fewer people succeed, while the majority of Americans are left to tread water or fall behind,” Biden wrote in the Des Moines Register, which last week endorsed Romney for the Republican nomination.
In the piece, Biden laid out his working-class background — which the Obama campaign will tout in rust-belt swing states in 2012 — and said he and Obama were champions of equal opportunity for all, not an entitlement society, as Romney alleged.
“The president and I firmly believe…that if you work hard and play by the rules, no opportunity should be out of reach,” he wrote. “That is a fundamentally different vision than what the other side has proposed.”
The jabs jibe with the Obama campaign’s focus on the former venture capitalist they see as Obama’s most likely challenger. They also provide a taste of what’s to come in a hotly contested general election.
The former Massachusetts governor, who is experimenting with a more confident and energized approach to shed a perception that he is one-dimensional, told supporters in New Hampshire on Friday he was surprised by the opinion piece.
During a campaign trail grip-and-grin in Tilton, Romney rhetorically asked who had the “chutzpah” to attack his ideas about how to boost a sluggish economy and persistent high unemployment, which dogs the country and, potentially, Obama’s chances at re-election.
“It was none other than Vice President Joe Biden. Another gaffe,” Romney said, a nod to verbal blunders Biden has made along the campaign trail, such as when, in 2008, he asked a wheelchair-bound state senator to stand and receive praise.
Obama and Biden live in a “fantasyland” and are out of touch with real people, Romney said, re-enforcing his stance that the Obama administration took a flagging economy and made it worse with too much spending.
Photo credit: Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, February 8, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing
Photo credit: A “Magical Misery Tour” t-shirt, featuring Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi hangs on a seat on the campaign bus of Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, December 22, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder