Joe Biden is back on the campaign trail, playing the same role that other vice presidents have played before him: attack dog.
Biden is road-testing the themes that President Obama and the Democrats plan to use against the Republicans over the next eight months. Stumping in Toledo, Ohio Thursday, he billed the upcoming election as a choice between "protecting the private sector" and "protecting the privileged sector."
Democratic strategists say Biden will travel in the next few weeks to six key battleground states—Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
His mission will be to frame the choice between Obama and the eventual Republican nominee. This is also what President Obama has been doing, in a more indirect way. But there was nothing indirect in Biden's slashing comments before a union audience in Toledo.
"Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich—these guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do," Biden declared. "Our philosophy is one that values the workers in the success of a business...We are for a fair shot and a fair shake. They're about no rules, no risks, and no accountability." Biden added that, if elected president, Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich would "bankrupt the middle class."
Biden also defended Obama's bailout of the auto industry, arguing that the Republicans would have allowed the industry to collapse and that would have cost tens of thousands of jobs. The bailout is an important issue in Ohio where many people depend on auto manufacturing for employment.
Biden defended Obama's efforts to save other manufacturing jobs, and the president's goal of increasing taxes on the rich and on big corporations while minimizing taxes on the middle class.
The vice president also pledged that the administration would always defend Medicare, and he criticized the GOP budget plan in the House as irresponsible and harmful to many Americans. He said the elderly would suffer under the plan, which would replace Medicare insurance benefits in the future with vouchers which would be used to buy health insurance in the private sector.
The vice president plans to visit senior centers in Florida next week.