COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Joe Biden freshened his attack on Mitt Romney on Sunday to accuse him of an insincere conversion to moderate, calling it a last-ditch attempt to fool voters after having tacked to the right for most of the campaign.
The vice president’s new jabs, delivered to sets of volunteers in a pair of swing states as his campaign schedule was diverted by Hurricane Sandy, came with a tacit acknowledgement that his strategy as the Democratic attack dog had been upended in the closing weeks of the presidential race.
For months, Biden said at his first stop in Manchester, N.H., he had told voters across the country that the Republicans were not “hiding the ball anymore,” and were being up-front about the policies they wanted to pursue on entitlements, the budget, social issues and foreign policy.
But now, “it's just amazing, it's amazing how rapidly Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan have run away from everything they've stood for, everything they voted for,” Biden said. He later said Republicans were seeking to blur the distinctions -- “trying to be fuzzed up at the very end in a big way.”
"The president talks about Gov. Romney having ‘Romnesia.’ Well that's not what this is about,” he continued. “They're counting on the American public having amnesia. They're counting on the American public forgetting everything they've done up until a month ago, everything they said."
Speaking later to volunteers in Ohio’s capital city, Biden urged them to pose a set of questions to undecided voters they encountered in the next week.
“When have you ever seen Gov. Romney take on the establishment of his party? What do you think the prospects are that Gov. Romney would attempt to do any of the things he now says -- what do you think the chances of him doing that with a Republican-controlled Congress if they keep the Congress? What do you think the chances are he’ll tell the tea party guys, ‘You’re dead wrong’? Because that’s basically what he’s saying now,” Biden said.
The comments would seem to be an indication of how the Obama campaign is still working to recalibrate its rhetoric against the Republican ticket, which now argues it is the one offering voters real change.
Biden, who was to campaign in New Hampshire on Monday, had to change plans with Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the northeast. He touched down in Manchester only to take off about two hours later, after the visit to the campaign office to apologize.
New Hampshire voters were best equipped to judge Romney’s newfound moderation, the state having been the one that put him on the course to win the Republican nomination with a victory in the first-in-the-nation primary last January. "You guys are the epicenter,” Biden said. He would make the same designation later again in Ohio.
“You know, these old Buckeyes, man, they see it clear. I really mean it. I think they cut through a lot of this stuff,” he said.
Biden was to campaign in Ohio on Tuesday, but diverted here a day early. He will instead stand in for President Obama at a rally Monday with President Clinton in Youngstown, with Obama set to return to Washington after a single campaign stop in Florida so that he can focus on the storm response.