Pouring on his trademark folksy style, Vice President Joe Biden today took a new approach to attacking GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney: highlighting what Democrats believe is his "remarkably consistent" disregard for American manufacturing jobs.
"Mitt Romney has been remarkably consistent. As an investor businessman, as governor of Massachusetts and now as a candidate for president. Remarkably consistent," Biden told a crowd during campaign stop at PCT Engineered Systems in Davenport, Iowa. "And I respectfully suggest, consistently wrong."
For the first time on the stump, Biden raised the outsourcing of jobs by Bain Capital, the investment firm Romney founded and led, and the outsourcing of contract work by the state of Massachusetts during Romney's tenure as governor. Both are examples, Biden said, of a man out of touch with American workers.
"I find that kind of fascinating. No, I really mean it. I mean, that's one, when I was told about it, I said, I'm not going to say that till you fact-check that for me again," he said of contracts awarded to overseas call centers during Romney's term as governor.
"But think about it. It's one thing for the local company to outsource a call service. But for the state government to outsource a call service that's set up to answer questions for people in the state about a problem with the government, to outsource that, denying folks in Massachusetts the jobs that are attendant to that?" he said. "Is it any surprise to you that Massachusetts under Governor Romney was losing manufacturing jobs twice as fast as the rest of the country?"
Biden's critique, coming on the third stop of his debut campaign tour as a top Obama surrogate, sought to portray a stark philosophical contrast between the rival campaigns - a theme Team Obama has already pushed on competing views of the auto bailout and Medicare reform.
"Conventional wisdom that manufacturing is dead in this country is dead wrong. Dead wrong. And we've got to maintain this momentum," Biden said. "One thing that could bring this momentum to a screeching halt is turning over the keys to the White House to Santorum or Romney."
While the vice president seemed to part with what had been a steady Democratic attack on Romney as an inconsistent, flip-flopper "without a core," he clearly doubled down on an effort to paint Romney as insensitive and out of touch.
"Governor Romney has called the president of the U.S. out of touch - that's a quote - out of touch for encouraging young people to try to get manufacturing jobs. Out of touch? Romney?" Biden said incredulously. "I mean, pretty remarkable, pretty remarkable. As an old friend of mine says, that's chutzpah."
Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg dismissed Biden's criticism, saying in an email that he is "part of an administration that has done more to devastate the middle class than any in modern history."
Citing a net loss of 800,000 U.S. jobs since Obama took office, declining home values and a spike in gas prices, she said it's "no surprise" the Obama campaign is attacking Romney to deflect attention away from the record.
This post has been updated.