Vice President Joe Biden reacts to a supporter prior to speaking at a campaign… (Madalyn Ruggiero / Associated…)
Reporting from Toledo, Ohio —
The rescue of the American auto industry was Vice President Joe Biden's opening argument as he began making the case for the president's reelection here today.
In remarks at a local United Auto Workers union hall, Biden hailed the "courageous" action Obama took to save American automakers General Motors and Chrysler – and hundreds of thousands of jobs with them. The approach favored by Republicans, Biden said, is "sort of a cautionary tale" for how they'd manage the economy at large.
"The guy I work with every day, the president -– he didn't flinch," Biden said. "He knew that resurrecting the industry wasn’t going to be popular. He knew he was taking a chance. But he believed -– he wasn’t going to give up a million jobs in the iconic industry American invented."
The role of a running mate is traditionally one of attack dog, and Biden signaled he's ready to do so even if the GOP presidential nominating fight promises to wage on.
He named all three leading GOP contenders in his remarks, but specifically targeted Mitt Romney for calling, in a 2008 Op-Ed article, to "let Detroit go bankrupt." Romney has said he favored a managed bankruptcy, and that the Obama administration should have turned to private lenders and not taxpayers to finance bridge loans.
"Any honest expert will tell you in 2009, no one was lining up to lend General Motors or Chrysler any money, or, for that matter, lend money to anybody. That includes Bain Capital," Biden shot back, referring to the venture capital firm Romney had led.
Thursday's speech was the first in a series that Biden is scheduled to make in the coming weeks to put a Democratic frame on the general-election choice before voters in the fall.
It comes as part of a larger ramping-up on the part of the president's reelection campaign that includes the release later today of a documentary-style video looking back at the first three years of Obama's administration. Biden is the most senior administration official interviewed in the 17-minute presentation.
Obama campaign officials say that even though the Republican nomination fight is far from settled, there is little doubt about the kind of agenda that will come from the eventual nominee, a point Biden made here.
"Stated simply, we're about promoting the private sector. They're about protecting the privileged sector. We're a fair shot, and a fair shake. They're about no rules, no risk and no accountability."
Biden's speech in the quadrennial presidential battleground is the first public event by either him or the president explicitly for the reelection effort, and comes just over a week after Ohio Republicans voted in their presidential primary.
It's also the first glimpse at how the campaign plans to use the vice president, its most prominent surrogate -- testifying just as much to the president's leadership qualities as to the policies he's pursued.