Vice President Joe Biden “can’t remember” a candidate as out of touch with the American middle class as Mitt Romney, he said in an interview that aired today.
The claim is not new to the Obama campaign, but in a CBS interview broadcast this morning the vice president’s remarks advertise the characterization as the Democrats’ new primary line of attack.
“I can’t remember a presidential candidate in the recent past who seems not to understand by what he says what ordinary middle class people are thinking about and are concerned about,” Biden said.
“Out of touch” finger-pointing is certainly not an original idea in politics. Democrats and Republicans have long sought to paint the other side as aloof to the values and everyday hardships of Americans. During the height of the 2008 campaign, attack ads from both sides looked like they were written by the same author.
But the recent focus from the Obama campaign is intended to dovetail with weeks of debate over the “Buffet Rule,” a bill the White House is pushing that would mandate Americans making more than $1 million a year pay at least the same tax rate as people in the middle class. The GOP maintains the president is engaging in class warfare.
“This is about the middle class,” Biden told CBS. “And none of what [Romney's] offering does anything.”
On the Republicans’ economic agenda, Biden said, “What is the Romney answer? There’s nothing. All they argue is cut. Get rid of that.”
Biden expanded his attack into healthcare and foreign policy, beginning by highlighting the Republican response to the recent controversy over insurance coverage for women’s contraceptives.
“It’s totally out of touch with reality,” he said. “And the right of women to decide for themselves whether or not they want to use contraception.”
The vice president also responded to criticism of the president’s recent open-mic incident with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Biden said Obama was merely “stating the obvious” when he told the foreign leader he would have more “flexibility” in dealing with missile defense after the election.
It was quickly jumped on by the GOP. Romney called the comments “alarming,” telling supporters he viewed Russia as the “number one geopolitical foe” to the United States and asking what else Obama had planned for after November.
Biden, who as a Senator chaired the Foreign Relations Committee, said the candidate was “uninformed or stuck in a Cold War mentality.”
“It exposes how little the governor knows about foreign policy,” he said, highlighting Russia’s involvement in U.S. supply lines to Afghanistan. “This is not 1956.”
When questioned on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, Biden said that despite criticism from Romney on the 2014 drawdown, the timetable reflected polls of waning public support for the war.
“We’ve done the same thing as we did in Iraq,” he said. “This is winding down, not kicking up.”
The Romney campaign was quick to respond to the vice president’s charges. In a written statement spokeswoman Andrea Saul says the interview, “demonstrated just how ‘out of touch’ the Obama Administration is with reality.”
“After three years of record unemployment and skyrocketing gas prices, the only thing President Obama has delivered is a string of broken promises that have decimated the middle class.”
The release asserts White House “failures” to curb rising gas prices, the debt, and deficit spending were the true danger to the general public. The campaign statement cites Politico’s coverage of a Congressional Budget Office report as evidence millions of Americans may lose employer healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Biden’s interview with Bob Schieffer was taped last week, but was released in its entirety on “Face the Nation” today.