LORDSTOWN - Vice President Joe Biden mounted the Democratic counterpoint to the Republican presidential ticket Friday, drawing attention to the Obama administration's rescue of the auto industry and portraying GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney as a foe of government efforts to save jobs.
Laying out President Barack Obama's indictment of Republican policies, Biden said that Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, has voted in Congress for measures that caused massive federal debts, including two wars, a prescription drug benefit and tax cuts for the wealthy that were not paid for.
"They call their plan new, bold and gutsy," Biden told about 250 supporters in a union hall. "There is nothing gutsy about giving another trillion dollars in tax cuts to millionaires; there is nothing bold about turning Medicare into a voucher system. There is nothing bold about kicking 19 million kids and elderly off of Medicaid with no place else to go."
Biden spoke at the UAW Local 1714 union hall, about two miles away from the sprawling General Motors' Lordstown Complex, in an event meant to emphasize the importance of the automobile rescue in Ohio. The recoveries of GM and Chrysler have been key themes in the president's re-election campaign, particularly in Michigan and Ohio.
Biden began speaking about noon and spoke for roughly 20 minutes.
"I thought he was pretty succinct, pretty much to the point," said Democratic state Rep. Thomas Letson. "I think he drew the distinction between what Gov. Romney and President Obama have to offer, and I like much of what President Obama has to offer."
Arno Hill, Lordstown's Republican mayor, was at the campaign stop despite his support of Romney and not agreeing with "just about everything he (Biden) said," Hill said.
"I was there as a courtesy because the vice president of the United States was in Lordstown. He came to my town, even if the guy doesn't know who I am, I was there as a courtesy to him because you have to respect the office," Hill said.
Biden criticized Romney for opposing a taxpayer rescue of GM and Chrysler.
"What they didn't acknowledge is Gov. Romney's position was 'let Detroit go bankrupt,'" he said, quoting the headline on a 2008 Romney opinion piece in the New York Times.
Ryan campaign spokesman Brendan Buck responded that Obama inherited a troubled economy but has made it worse.
"Like many towns across America, Janesville, Wis., is still waiting for the recovery the president promised," Buck said, referring to Ryan's hometown, where a GM auto plant was idled in 2008, before Obama became president.
Biden's remarks came as Romney and Ryan left their Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., seeking the votes of former Obama supporters who have grown disenchanted with his presidency.
Obama traveled to Texas on Friday, where he was speaking to military families on the second anniversary of the end of combat operations in Iraq. On Monday, the president is scheduled to speak at an event in Toledo.
A second Labor Day event planned in Cleveland was canceled to meet with officials in Louisiana about recovery and response efforts to Hurricane Isaac.