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Biden sticks to script, goes after Ryan plan on Medicare

August 15, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Vice President Joe Biden greets supporters at the Institute for Advanced Research and Learning in Danville, Va.
Vice President Joe Biden greets supporters at the Institute for Advanced… (Steven Mantilla / Register…)

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Joe Biden isn’t going to change his brand, even a day after his comments spurred a Category 3 storm of outrage.

“I know I am sometimes criticized for saying exactly what I mean. And it’s not going to change,” the vice president told a crowd of supporters at the end of a campaign speech here Wednesday afternoon.

Biden was somewhat subdued at the outset of a roughly half-hour speech on the campus of Virginia Tech, paying closer attention, it seemed, to the TelePrompTer screens in front of him to more carefully keep to the script.

A light moment – when he got a big chuckle from the audience to a line in his stump speech mocking the Romney campaign’s distinguishing “outsourcing” and “offshoring” – put him back into a more feisty form, just in time to hit the message of the day: Medicare.

“They make massive changes in Medicare, turning it into a voucher system,” Biden warned of the Republicans.

Studies show, he said, that a voucher to purchase private insurance, rather than the traditional Medicare benefit, would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year because it wouldn’t keep up with rising health costs under what he first referred to as “a Ryan-Romney plan.”

“Or the Romney – whatever it is now,” he joked, after reversing the order of the Republican ticket. “On the one that Romney – that Ryan introduced and his colleagues supported.”

“It’s all in the service of what they think is the way you grow the economy – all in the service of maintaining the Bush tax cuts and adding additional tax cuts for the very wealthy,” he continued.

A day after he told another southwest Virginia audience that Republicans would “put y’all back in chains,” there was no reference to chains or “shackles,” as Biden would later say he meant to say.

The dust-up, which Romney said was evidence of an increasingly desperate Obama campaign, showed how quickly the campaign returned to a battle over sound bites and even smoke-signals on race, even after Paul Ryan’s joining Mitt Romney's ticket seemed to portend a more policy-focused debate.

Biden’s remarks, though, were primarily policy focused, complementing President Obama’s own message in Iowa focused on how his administration has strengthened the Medicare program. The Romney campaign nonetheless reacted to the event by saying that an Obama campaign “based on rage and divisiveness can’t hide the president’s failed record.”

Earlier Wednesday, as he greeted locals outside an eatery in Radford, Va., Biden dodged a question about the comments, and Romney’s reaction to it.

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