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Biden clarifies 'chains' remark, takes shot at GOP rivals

August 14, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • The vice president said he simply used the wrong word when he said Republicans wanted to "put y'all in chains."
The vice president said he simply used the wrong word when he said Republicans… (Don Peterson / Associated…)

WYTHEVILLE, Va. -- It’s not the first time Joe Biden had to explain or clarify public remarks. And very likely it won’t be the last.

On Tuesday night, at his second campaign event in southwest Virginia, the vice president said he simply was using the wrong word when he said earlier that Republicans wanted to “put y’all in chains,” and punched back at what the Obama campaign saw as a case of phony outrage from their Republican counterparts.

To a crowd of several hundred in a school gym here, Biden began his mop-up attempt by noting that Mitt Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Rep.Paul D. Ryan, once said that a “renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy.” Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner had also used “unshackled” when referring to budget proposals. That line was in Ryan’s January 2011 response to Obama’s State of the Union address.

“The last time these guys unshackled the economy, to use their term, they put the middle class in shackles. That’s how we got where we are,” Biden said. “You’re the ones that got nailed. All of America, except the very few.”

Then to a crowd that may very well have completely missed what was a Drudge Report-fueled, cable-TV-enhanced brouhaha, he referred to his comment in Danville, Va., where as he warned about Romney promising to undo Wall Street reforms, he said: “He’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street! They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.”

The former seven-term senator then revised and extended his remarks. He meant to say “unshackled” instead of “unchained,” he said.

“I’m told that when I made that comment earlier today in Danville, the Romney campaign put out a tweet … [and] went on the airwaves saying, ‘Biden, he’s outrageous in saying that,’ ” he said. “I got a message for them. If you want to know what’s outrageous, it’s their policies and the effects of their policies on middle-class America. That’s what’s outrageous.”

That retort came about six hours after the original remark, which spurred a battle of news releases from Team Romney and Team Obama.

The Republican campaign said Biden’s comments were “not acceptable in our political discourse and demonstrate yet again that the Obama campaign will say and do anything to win this election.”

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter called the reaction “hypocritical, particularly in light of their own candidate’s stump speech questioning the president’s patriotism.”

Biden and his team had time to stew over the dust-up during an afternoon of long drives on winding roads through rural towns, two of which he made unscheduled stops in to chat with local voters.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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