Politics & Government
9:00 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden Visits Durham

Vice President Joe Biden was in North Carolina yesterday, just one day after Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan visited the state. The vice president did his best to lay out the differences between the Democratic and Republican tickets.

Jessica Jones: Biden was greeted by a sea of hundreds of cheering supporters holding blue Obama signs at the Durham Armory yesterday afternoon. He said he’d already spoken with Congressman Ryan to congratulate him on being chosen as the Republican vice presidential pick, and he even called Ryan a good guy. But Biden says what Democrats and Republicans want for the country isn’t the same.

Vice President Biden: Now that Governor Romney has selected his running mate, those differences are even more stark. The reason I say that Congressman Ryan has given definition to the vague commitments that Romney’s been making. There’s definition to it now it’s clear.

That’s because as the chair of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Ryan is known for his central role in drafting the Republican party’s budget proposals. The 2013 proposal is known for its austerity. It includes plans to replace Medicare with a voucher-like program, cap some discretionary public spending, and narrow down existing tax brackets. Biden says he thinks it shows fundamentally flawed judgement.

Biden: They called it gutsy. Gusty. No I’m serious. What’s gutsy about giving millionaires another tax break. What’s gutsy about gutting Medicare, Medicaid, education. What’s gutsy? They talked about what they’re proposing is new. Folks- this is only not new, it’s not fair.

Biden says Ryan wants to privatize Social Security, which he calls irresponsible. A few minutes later, he referred to an article the Washington Post published back in June about Romney’s old firm, Bain Capital, outsourcing jobs to India and China. Romney’s campaign advisers responded by saying there’s a difference between outsourcing and offshoring. And the Obama campaign is still running with it.

Biden: I don’t have to tell people about outsourcing. Y’all get it. And I love Romney’s answer. There’s a difference between outsourcing and offshoring. Oh. By the way, can you picture the conversation- two guys in an unemployment line- one guy turns and says were you outsourced or offshored? What were you?

Biden was in his element telling jokes before the crowd, adding that the Romney campaign has accused the president of being out of touch, but that’s hard to do given the fact that Romney has a Swiss bank account. The Vice President also underscored the growing Democratic call for Romney to release his tax returns before 2010. Biden was joined on the podium by Representative G.K. Butterfield of the state’s first congressional district. He encouraged supporters to get out the vote and reminded them that in 2008, Obama won the state by a slim margin.

G.K. Butterfield: Every day volunteers like you come in and out of campaign offices across the state to make phone calls and register voters or talk to friends and neighbors about what’s at stake. There is so much at stake in this election unlike any election we have ever seen in our lifetime.

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns have dozens of campaign offices across the state. The Obama campaign has promised to reward volunteers who log at least nine hours with a seat at President Obama’s speech to close the national convention in Charlotte. But recent high school graduates Josh Morrison and Deborah Montes say there are other benefits to coming to these events. They were chosen to sit right behind the Vice President so they’d be on national television.

Josh Morrison and Deborah Montes: We were standing pretty much right here and someone just asked us if we wanted to. And then we got kind of escorted back there. So it was completely random/yeah very spur of the moment, it was kinda cool, very unexpected.

Morrison and Montes are both heading out of state to college in the fall. They say it’s a shame they won’t be able to attend the convention in September. But they’re still planning to make their votes count from hundreds of miles away by absentee ballot.