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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Biden Warns Romney Policies Would Put Crowd \'Back in Chains\'


WASHINGTON - Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. created a stir Tuesday at a campaign speech in Virginia when he told the crowd that that Mitt Romney's policies would enable the banking and financial sectors to “put you all back in chains.”

The remark came roughly two-thirds of the way through Mr. Biden's thirty-minute speech, which was delivered to a crowd that included many African Americans at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Va.

“Romney wants to let the - he said in the first hundred days, he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street,” Mr. Biden said. “They're going to put you all back in chains.”

On a C-Span video of the speech, the audience does not appear to react negatively to Mr. Biden's phrasing; indeed, laughter can be heard among the crowd.

President Obama and his surrogates have been campaigning heavily in Virginia, and the campaign's strategy relies in part on energizing the black vote to take the traditionally Republican state, which moved to the Democratic column in the 2008 presidential election. According to the U.S. Census, the population of Danville is roughly 48.8 percent white and 48.6 percent black.

Following Mr. Biden's address, some Republicans assailed Mr. Biden's remark. On Twitter, Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush, likened the comment to one made by Sarah Palin when she compared critical press coverage to “blood libel,” a term alluding to the false allegation that Jews once killed Christian children to use their blood for religious rituals.

“The press pounded Palin when she talked about ‘blood libel,'” Mr. Fleischer wrote. “What will they do about Biden's ‘chains' remark?”

Later Tuesday, both presidential campaigns responded to the vice president's remarks, with Mr. Romney 's campaign calling the phrasing “not acceptable.”

“After weeks of slanderous and baseless accusations leveled against Governor Romney, the Obama Campaign has reached a new low,” Andrea Saul, Mr. Romney's press secretary, said in a statement. “The comments made by the Vice President of the United States are not acceptable in our political discourse and demonstrate yet again that the Obama Campaign will say and do anything to win this election. President Obama should tell the American people whether he agrees with Joe Biden's comments.”

Appearing on MSNBC, Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama's deputy campaign manager, defended Mr. Biden and called the reaction from Mr. Romney's campaign “faux outrage.”

“We have no problem with those comments,” Ms. Cutter said of Mr. Biden's speech.

As he concluded his speech, Mr. Biden confused North Carolina with Virginia, where Danville is located.

“With you we can win North Carolina again, and if we do, we win the election if we win you,” Mr. Biden said.

The city of Danville abuts the northern border of North Carolina, which also went for Mr. Obama in 2008 but is considered a more challenging state for his campaign this time around.