Vice President Joe Biden. (Evan Vucci / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden railed Tuesday against the GOP's hard-line stance on immigration in a speech warning Latino voters of the consequences if they "sit on your hands" in the coming elections.
And in a political twofer, Biden linked Mitt Romney's support for Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration measure to his reluctance to provide greater disclosure of his personal finances, quipping at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference: "He wants you to show your papers, but he won’t show us his."
Biden's zinger was the latest in an escalating campaign by Democrats to press the presumptive Republican nominee to release more detailed tax records.
Romney accuses the president of being out of touch, Biden said, but he's the one who "until recently had a Swiss bank account and millions of dollars invested in the Grand Cayman Islands beyond scrutiny."
He said Romney should abide by his own father's standard of disclosure.
George Romney, Biden said, "released 12 years of tax returns because, he said, and I quote, 'One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.’ End of quote."
"That was his father. His son has released only one year of his tax returns. Making a lie of the old adage: Like father, like son," Biden said.
In January, Romney released his 2010 tax return, and estimates for 2011.
The vice president, speaking at the Las Vegas gathering, was introduced as having "a Latino heart," and drew parallels between the immigrant experience of his family immigrating from Ireland and those who have come more recently from Spanish-speaking nations.
"There's always been a fight between the voices of inclusion and the voices of exclusion, between those pushing forward and those who continue to try to push us back, between those appealing to our hopes and those who continue to appeal to our fears," he said.
Biden touted the Obama administration's recent action to halt deportations of some young illegal immigrants, a move he said had wide support among Americans.
"The American people support the Dreamers," he said. "I imagine even some of you were surprised by the way ordinary Americans embraced the president's action."
Biden warned of what a Romney presidency and Republican Congress would mean for Latinos in a range of areas, including Supreme Court appointments, healthcare, education, voter suppression and the economy.
"So much is at stake for your community in this presidential election," he said. "If you all sit on your hands in this race, it will not be because we did not know what the world will look like four, six and eight years from now. The consequences will not just be immediate, they will be long term."