DANVILLE, Va. (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden sparked a campaign commotion Tuesday, telling an audience in southern Virginia that included hundreds of black voters that Republican Mitt Romney wanted to put them "back in chains" by deregulating Wall Street. He later mocked Republican criticism over the remark while conceding he meant to use different words.
Campaigning in Danville, Biden said the Republican ticket wanted to "unchain Wall Street" by getting rid of regulations Obama signed into law two years ago. He added: "They're going to put y'all back in chains."
Romney said the vice president's remarks were part of pattern of "reckless" comments by Obama's campaign and his surrogates "that disgrace the office of the presidency."
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Institute for Advanced Research and Learning in Danville, Va., Tuesday.
In Chillicothe, Ohio, as he ended his bus tour Tuesday night, Romney called Biden's comment "another outrageous charge" and added: "The White House sinks a little bit lower. This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like."
In an interview Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," Romney said: "I can't speak for anybody else, but I can say that I think the comments of the vice president were one more example of a divisive effort to keep from talking about the issues."
Biden, speaking in Wytheville, Va., said he had meant to use the term "unshackled." But he did not apologize and mocked the Romney campaign for its criticism.
Obama's campaign stood by Biden, saying the comments were a variation on remarks he makes often about the need to "unshackle" the middle class. The campaign said the metaphor was meant to counter Republican calls to unshackle the private sector from Obama-backed regulations.
Still, Biden did not repeat the line Wednesday during a campaign event in Blacksburg, Va.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter to issue a statement trying to paint over the issue by calling the Romney campaign's outrage "hypocritical."
"Let's return to that 'substantive' debate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan promised 72 hours ago, but quickly abandoned," she said in a statement.
The flurry over Biden's remarks underscored what the Obama team knows is a constant risk with the vice president - that his penchant for speaking off the cuff can sometimes result in embarrassing or offensive comments.