CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s become the signature line from Joe Biden as his campaigns on behalf of the Democratic ticket: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.
In his speech accepting renomination Thursday, the vice president expanded the bumper-sticker slogan to tell the story of the decisions he watched President Obama make from his “ringside seat” for the last four years. He said Obama’s decisions to rescue the auto industry and target the Al Qaeda leader reveal a leader with “courage in his soul, compassion in his heart and a spine of steel.”
“I’ve watched him. He has never wavered. He never, never backs down,” Biden said. “And folks, because of the decisions he has made, and the incredible strength of the American people, America has turned a corner. ”
Biden said that the choice in the election is as stark as any in the nation’s history, and that the auto bailout and fight against terrorism were tests of character that Mitt Romney had failed.
Biden said Romney didn’t understand what the auto industry meant to the nation, and would have chosen the “Bain way” — a reference to the venture capital firm Romney once headed.
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“Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profit. But it’s not the way to lead your country from its highest office,” he said.
When it came to Bin Laden, Biden quoted Romney as saying as a candidate in 2007 that it was not “worth moving heaven and earth, and spending billions of dollars, just to catch one person.”
“He was wrong,” Biden said. “If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the president did.”
On the key issue in the election, the state of the economy, Biden insisted that Obama’s approach was working and was the right one for the long term to sustain the middle class. And there too he singled out Romney over his business record, spoofing his announcement in his acceptance speech in Tampa, Fla., that he would take a “jobs tour” immediately upon taking office.
“Well with his support for outsourcing, it’s going to have to be a foreign trip,” Biden said.
Biden addressed party delegates just before his running mate, a departure from recent tradition at the party gatherings in which the vice presidential and presidential nominees speak on succeeding nights.
But Democrats planned for a three-day convention, and prime speaking slots were afforded to First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday and former President Clinton on Wednesday.
But in having Obama and Biden speak back to back, the campaign said it was emphasizing the deep connection that has developed between the two men. It was a request Obama made personally to his vice president.
“Barack and I, we've been through a lot together these four years, and we learned about one another,” Biden said Thursday. “One of the things I learned about Barack is the enormity of his heart. And I think he learned about me the depth of my loyalty to him.”
Having Biden speak before Obama, touting the president’s accomplishments and jabbing at Romney, also freed Obama up to make what was expected to be a forward-looking speech outlining his goals for a second term.
It also pushed Biden mostly out of the 10 p.m. hour in which most of the television networks broadcast convention proceedings.
The Romney campaign responded to Biden’s remarks by saying he was “doubling down on the president’s out-of-touch rhetoric” by saying the nation had turned the corner.