Total Pageviews

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Biden Takes a Daylight Saving Time-Themed Swipe at Romney

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at a rally in Arvada, Colo., on Saturday.Ozier Muhammad/The New York TimesVice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at a rally in Arvada, Colo., on Saturday.

ARVADA, Colo. â€" Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took a few last swings at Mitt Romney in Colorado during two stops on Saturday before heading to a final stretch of campaigning in a pair of other crucial swing states, Virginia and Ohio, telling a crowd of 900 at a suburban Denver high school that while the Republican presidential nominee is a “decent” man, he is also “absolutely shameless” and has shown he lacks the character required of a president by preying upon the fears of desperate and worried Americans.

“Folks I want to remind you, t his is the end of daylight savings time tonight,” Mr. Biden said. “It's Mitt Romney's favorite time of year because he gets to turn the clock back. He wants to turn that clock back so desperately. This time he can really do it tonight.”

At one point, the 69-year-old vice president insisted that he wasn't “one of these guys who talks about these other guys being bad.” And for a moment he seemed to go out of his way to praise Mr. Romney, along with President Obama, as “both decent fathers. They are both good family men, they are both decent men.”

Mr. Biden then spent much of his speech lacerating Mr. Romney's character and what he described as his waffling over key issues â€" citing, among other things, what analysts have described as Mr. Romney's evasive and at times contradictory positions on pulling troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Biden said Mr. Romney's favorite phrase when addressing questions about troops in Afghanistan was, “It depends.”

“It depends on the day,” Mr. Biden said. “It depends on the hour. It depends on the weather. It depends whether the sun is shining. It depends what the polls say. It depends on who's looking. It depends on who's asking. With these guys, it always depends. It always depends. Everything depends.”

Throughout much of the campaign, Mr. Romney said he embraced in concept a 2014 pullout from Afghanistan of regular combat troops â€" the same plan put forward by Mr Obama and NATO allies â€" but he often amended that timeline by saying he would first weigh advice from military commanders, leaving wiggle room, analysts said, to keep regular forces in Afghanistan past that date. But in the final debate with Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney unambiguously stated â€" without the usual caveats or conditions â€" that “we'll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014.”

(Mr. Biden also asserted during his speech here that Mr. Romney said i t was tragic to leave Iraq and not leave behind 30,000 combat troops. But Mr. Biden did not mention that Mr. Romney, who had talked in interviews about numbers like 10,000 to 30,000 troops, was suggesting something of a residual force to help the transition â€" not entirely unlike the Obama administration's plans for Afghanistan after 2014.)

Mr. Biden also drew on a lesson he said he learned from his mother, whom he quoted as saying, “Joey, the measure of your character is not what you do when people are looking. It's what you do when you think no one is looking.”

“Governor Romney revealed his character when he thought no one was looking, and he characterized 47 percent of the American people as, quote, unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives,” Mr. Biden said. “Who does he think he is? No wonder they run ads preying on the fears of the American people and those autoworkers. Presidential elections are first and foremost about character. Char acter is the single most important ingredient a president must possess, and it's clear who has it, and who does not have it.”