MARTINS FERRY - Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged Thursday that Republican Mitt Romney accomplished his goals as a business executive, but Biden said the president's job is to create opportunities for everybody - not to help a select few at everyone else's expense.
"His job was to create wealth for investors, but that's not the job of a president of the United States of America," Biden said. "The job is much bigger than that."
Speaking to a crowd of about 450 people comprised mainly of invited guests, Biden campaigned on behalf of Democrat President Barack Obama in the parking lot of Staffilino Chevrolet. Obama and Biden are seeking re-election in November, with Romney as the presumptive Republican nominee in the race.
Staffilino's Rich Vince welcomed Biden and talked about the "tough and loyal" workers who have helped the dealership and General Motors survive for decades. Biden echoed his thoughts, citing that his own father operated an auto dealership. And Biden pointed to the trio of Chevrolet Cruze models that served as a backdrop for his speech.
"These three cars behind me represent pride," Biden said, noting that the compact cars are built in Lordstown, Ohio. For "folks on the line, folks in the dealerships, folks in the parts plants, it's not just about the line. It's not just about the job you have. It's about whether or not you can have pride in what you're doing."
Touting the Obama administration's decision to loan federal funds to GM and Chrysler to keep them afloat from December 2008 through March 2009, Biden said a third shift was recently added at the Lordstown plant and that 2,300 new jobs have been created there.
Photos by Scott McCloskey
Vice President Joe Biden addresses a crowd of about 450 people at Staffilino Chevrolet in Martins Ferry Thursday morning.
"We believe in ordinary American people," Biden said. "We believe the middle class is how you define the success of the economy."
Biden called Romney a "patriotic guy" and said he believes Romney is a good and decent man who loves the American people; however, he said Romney has a "fundamentally different view of how to make this country go."
Biden asserted that Romney believes the federal government should "look out for the guy at the top," providing tax breaks for the wealthy and placing few regulations on Wall Street. He said Romney would let workers, small businesses and communities "fend for themselves" and allow wealth and prosperity to "come down from the top."
Biden attacked Romney's record as a businessman, citing a Kansas steel firm where Romney and his partners at Bain Capital took control. Biden said while hundreds of workers there lost their jobs when the company went bankrupt, the executives and investors walked away with millions.
"That's Romney economics, two sets of rules - one for his wealthy investors and the other for everybody else," Biden said. "The job of the president of the United States is to help ... businessmen and women, small and large, who have to worry about everything from environmental controls to whether the streets are paved to all the things that affect their ability to do business."
Biden also chided Republicans for blocking an infrastructure bill he said would have created jobs and increased productivity.
"Imagine if we were rebuilding the roads and bridges in the valley," Biden said, drawing a round of applause. "That's government's job, it's to help people looking for jobs. We look out for the entire nation, not just one segment of the nation. That's the president's job, folks."
Despite the presence of a large and vocal group of protestors waving signs about the "war on coal" from a hillside overlooking the lot, Biden did not address energy policy or environmental regulations during his remarks.
The Associated Press reported that in response to Biden's visit, the Romney campaign criticized Biden and Obama for administration spending policies that have continued to raise the national debt by $5 trillion - the equivalent of $15,000 for every Ohioan, according to Romney. Romney's campaign also said he had a net job creation record both as a businessman and governor of Massachusetts.