Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Wynmoor Village in Coconut Creek, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett / Sun Sentinel )
Reporting from Washington —
Even Joe Biden couldn't resist using the "Etch A Sketch" gaffe to needle GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, as he made a broader attack against the candidate and his party for their support for a dramatic overhaul of Medicare.
In the second in a series of campaign speeches by the vice president meant to outline the Obama camp's general election message, Biden said there was "no daylight" between Romney and congressional leaders like Rep. Paul D. Ryan on the issue of entitlements, saying both were determined to "dismantle" Medicare and Social Security.
"And not even Romney’s Etch A Sketch can change that," Biden told a crowd at a senior center in south Florida.
Biden was referring to the comments of a senior Romney aide, Eric Fehrnstrom, when discussing whether positions Romney had staked out in the primary to curry favor with conservative voters might be a liability in the general election. Fehrnstrom said the campaign would be "reset" if and when Romney clinched his party's nomination.
"Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again," he said. Romney later argued that his spokesman was referring to the mechanics of a campaign, not the policy positions he holds.
Biden nonetheless continued the campaign's efforts this week to tie Romney to the House Republican budget plan authored by Ryan, which would provide future seniors with a fixed amount of money to be used to purchase either a traditional Medicare-like healthcare plan or a privately run option.
"We believe in strengthening Medicare. They don't. Make no mistake about it, if the Republicans in Congress -- and their amen corner of Romney, Santorum and Gingrich -- if any one of them gets their hands on the keys of the White House, I promise you will see Medicare ended as you know it," Biden said.
And on the second anniversary of the signing of the healthcare reform law, an accomplishment he had once branded a "big [expletive] deal," Biden said the impact of Republicans' plans for Medicare would be compounded by what would happen if they were successful in repealing the law
"In the process, I would argue they'll be repealing that sense of dignity," he said.
Biden's remarks were part of a campaign message on the anniversary of the healthcare reform plan, which was little noted at the White House in an official capacity.
The president's political team launched a multimedia offensive that embraced the "Obamacare" term that Republicans have used to deride the measure. The president's Twitter feed carried this message: "Happy birthday to Obamacare: two years in, the Affordable Care Act is making millions of Americans' lives better every day."
Biden is set to make two more "framing" speeches on the campaign trail, the next on Wednesday in Davenport, Iowa.
Biden takes 'Etch-A-Sketch' swipe at Romney in Fla. campaign speech