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Biden: 'Romney seems to want it both ways' on auto bailout credit

May 17, 2012|By Michael Memoli
  • Vice President Joe Bidenspeaks at Staffilino Chevrolet in Martins Ferry, Ohio.
Vice President Joe Bidenspeaks at Staffilino Chevrolet in Martins Ferry,… (Keith Srakocic / Associated…)

MARTINS FERRY, Ohio -- Joe Biden on Thursday mocked Mitt Romney for attempting to claim credit for the rebound of the American auto industry, linking the GOP hopeful's past criticism of the Obama administration's rescue plan with his role as the head of venture capital firm Bain Capital.

The setting for Biden's latest attack on Romney was a Chevrolet plant in the southeast corner of Ohio, to a crowd of 450 invited supporters standing before three Chevy Cruzes.

The vice president praised Obama for stepping up to save Big 3 automakers General Motors and Chrysler from "liquidation," to preserve what he called an "iconic industry that helped build the middle class."

"Gov. Romney also stepped up. He made it clear what he would do," Biden said, referring to his New York Times op-ed headlined, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

He noted that Romney now tries to finesse his criticism by saying he advocated for "private equity" to step in, rather than having taxpayer dollars bail out the companies. But if so, Biden asked, why didn't Romney's own company want to invest.

"Gov. Romney seems to want it both ways now. It’s kind of amazing," Biden said. "You'd think I was making this up. ... He said, quote, I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that the industry’s come back."

"Whoa!" Biden continued. "I’ll take a lot of credit for a man having landed on the moon!"

Biden said he and the president were "completely confident" in letting the American people judge who brought the auto industry back.

A Romney spokesman countered that the administration has "the worst job-creation record of any administration in modern history."

"President Obama and his campaign can only resort to misleading attacks on Mitt Romney. Americans deserve better than President Obama’s liberal policies that have failed to get America back on track," Ryan Williams said.

The campaign's use of Bain Capital this week has drawn criticism, Biden acknowledged. The administration's own former auto czar, Steve Rattner, called the ad unfair.

"Romney defenders," Biden said, have pointed out that it was "not the job of investors ... to create jobs. It’s their jobs to create wealth for the investors."

"That’s true," Biden said. "But that’s not the job of a president of the United States of America. The job is much bigger than that."

As Biden spoke, the jeers of dozens of demonstrators cordoned off across the street from the dealership could occasionally be heard. Chanting, "Uncle Joe, he must go!" the group protested the administration for what it termed hostility toward the coal industry.

Biden never acknowledged the group, and ignored a question from a reporter on the subject as he worked the ropeline greeting supporters after his remarks.

One supporter acknowledged that the issue was costing the ticket votes in the region, just across the river from West Virginia.

"Obama and Biden needs to push clean coal technology more than they're doing," said Ron Vicker of St. Clairsville.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

Original source: Biden: 'Romney seems to want it both ways' on auto bailout credit

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