Biden Campaigns in Chesterfield
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Sep 28, 2012, 10:17
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Joe Biden was introduced by Marjorie Clark, a retired Chesterfield school teacher.
With Virginia expected to be a critical battleground state in November’s presidential election, candidates have been traversing the commonwealth, touting their accomplishments and plans and critiquing their opponents. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are expected back in the state they have already visited many times on Thursday.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people with free tickets packed into an exhibition building at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds to hear incumbent Vice President Joe Biden speak.
He followed a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Petersburg resident Col (Ret.) Porcher Taylor, a veteran who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam and spent time in both the Navy and Army.
“It’s a genuine honor, and I mean a genuine honor, to have shared this platform today with a true hero, a man who fought hard to be able to fight hard for this country in the air,” Biden said.
During his remarks, Biden hammered Romney on his economic policies, which he said are similar to the policies that led to the crash of 2008.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson
“Ladies and gentlemen, they’re insisting, Romney’s insisting, on putting back in place the exact same policies that produced the problem in the first place,” Biden said.
Those policies, Biden said, were bad for the middle class.
“What I might point out is that, through no fault of their own, the middle class was decimated, decimated, by the policies that produced this recession,” Biden said.
Biden said that while Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan talk about values and the middle class, they are advocating a top down fiscal policy that would not help that group.
“Don’t tell me what you value,” Biden said, quoting a phrase he said his father used. “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.”
Considering the Romney Ryan budget, Biden criticized possible spending cuts in education and Medicaid.
“Why are they doing all this?” Biden asked. “Well, there’s a simple, straightforward answer. It is not that complicated. They’re doing it in order to maintain, and pay for additional, massive tax cuts for the wealthy.”
He asserted that the middle class would have to pay for those tax cuts and cited a study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center than indicated that some of the tax cuts Romney has called for could lead to other, as yet unspecified tax policy changes that could result in higher taxes on the middle class.
Biden also seized upon the recently revealed video in which Romney tells a room of supporters that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes and see themselves as victims. Biden countered that most of the people included in that 47 percent pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, state and local taxes, gas taxes and property taxes.
“Look, instead of attacking folks who work for a living and pay their way, Romney should be respecting their hard work,” Biden said. “That’s the job of a President. To lift people up, not tear them down.”
Cheers of “four more years” broke out in the audience.
In the video, Romney also says that it is not his job to worry about that 47 percent.
“When he said it’s not my job to worry about these people, well whose job is it?” Biden asked.
“...if the 47 percent doesn’t make it, the country doesn’t make it,” he continued, to wild applause.
The Vice President dismissed claims that a new culture of dependency has arisen in the country and said that he doesn’t view providing benefits to seniors to help them get by, or child care tax credits to young working people, to be related to a culture of dependency.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not dependency,” he said. “It’s simple decency.”
Biden said that the best way to create jobs is “from the middle out” and not “from the top down.”
He said the modern Republican party has changed since the days of at least one Republican legend of Virginia politics.
“Look folks, this is not your father’s Republican party,” he said.”I would dumbfounded if your former Republican senator John Warner said anything like this.”
As he neared the end of his speech, Biden offered a comment directly to Romney and Ryan.
“Gentlemen, it has never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against the American people,” he said.
At the end of his remarks, Biden mentioned the critical role Virginia will play in November.
“We are going to continue to move forward, and with your help, we will finish what we started,” Biden said. “We win Virginia, we win the presidency,” he said, as his final words were obscured by cheers and applause.
Tyla Matteson and Eileen Slade used Biden’s visit to call awareness to the names of Congressional candidates voters will see on the ballot in Nov. Matteson held a sign promoting Ella Ward, who is challenging Congressman Randy Forbes.
“All Virginians need to hear the message that Joe Biden gave us today and, if they agree with him, which I hope that they will, they also need to think about who else is on the ticket,” Matteson said.
Slade said she agreed with Biden’s views on the importance of the middle class.
“We need to have a strong middle class and that’s what makes American strong,” she said. “Always has.”
Thelma Bethea, a Petersburg resident who has been working with Organizing for America, said she was looking forward to the upcoming debates and couldn’t pick just one part of Biden’s speech that resonated most strongly with her.
“His whole message, because he talked about what the Democrats are planning for the future,” she said. “All of the things that he said, I agree with him.”
Richmond based musician Paulo Franco, whose band Paulo Franco and the Rateros provided music and political commentary as people waited for Biden to appear, said opening for the Vice President was a pretty good gig.
“It was really an honor,” he said. “An absolute honor. I really like the guy. Deep in my heart, I believe in him and I believe in the President.”
Clarence Hicks, a WWII Army veteran who lives in Prince George County, gave a simple reason for supporting Obama and Biden.
“It’s like this,” he said. “I feel he’s the better of the two to direct our country.”
Hicks said he’s known Biden for a long time and thinks of him as a friend.
“He’s a super guy,” he said. “He’s just an okay fella.”
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson
Hicks drives a red, white and blue van adorned with the signatures of over 8,000 people. He used the van to campaign for Hilary Clinton, whose signature appears on the van’s side, and now uses in to campaign for Obama.
To coincide with Biden’s visit, the Romney campaign hit the road with two mobile billboard trucks showing a picture of Biden alongside the words “Obama’s Medicare cuts will cost Virginia nearly $12 Billion. We can’t afford four more years.”
The $12 Billion figure is derived from a University of Minnesota study.
“Vice President Biden is recycling false and debunked attacks because he can’t tell the people of Virginia about the Obama-Biden record of fewer jobs, more debt, and lower incomes,” Curt Cashour, Virginia Communications Director for Romney for President, said in an emailed request for a response to Biden’s remarks.