Vice President Joe Biden kicks off a two-day campaign swing through eastern Ohio today, pushing a populist economic message — dubbed “Obama economics” — that he’ll use to draw sharp contrasts between the president and Mitt Romney.
The vice president also plans to offer his first direct, public scrutiny of Romney’s record at the private equity firm Bain Capital, according to excerpts of his first speech in Youngstown released by the Obama campaign.
He will recount the case of GST Steel — the now defunct Kansas City, Mo., company that is also featured in the campaign’s latest TV ad, airing Wednesday in Ohio and four other states.
“He thinks that because he spent his career as a ‘businessman,’ he has the experience to run the economy,” Biden plans to tell a crowd at M7 Technologies, an advanced manufacturing facility. “So let’s take a look at a couple of things he did. He’s raised it. So let’s take a real hard look at it.”
GST Steel was acquired by Bain Capital in 1993 but went bankrupt in 2001 after being saddled with debt. Roughly 750 workers lost their jobs and retirement benefits, while executives and investors profited from investments. (Romney left Bain in 1999 but retained a stake in the company.)
“Romney made sure the wealthy played by a separate set of rules, he ran massive debts, and the middle class lost. And folks, he thinks this experience will help our economy?” Biden will say.
“Where I come from, past is prologue,” he says. “So what do you think he’ll do as president?”
The Romney campaign has said GST was a single case and sought to highlight other positive examples of Bain investments, including the Indiana company Steel Dynamics, which continues to thrive.
Republicans also contend that Biden’s focus on Romney’s background in private equity is meant to be a distraction from the administration’s record on the economy, which is recovering sluggishly from recession.
“With 23 million Americans struggling to find jobs, voters understand that it’s time to elect a successful businessman like Mitt Romney can put people back to work and address the serious economic challenges facing our country,” said Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams.
Still, Biden will claim credit for the recovery on the campaign trail, arguing in his remarks that the economy is “starting to come back.” But he focuses most of his attention on what he calls competing economic philosophies for the future.
“There’s Obama Economics, which values the role of workers in the success of a business, and values the middle class in the success of the economy,” Biden will say. “And then there’s Romney Economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities can be left to fend for themselves.
“Nobody knows better than the people of the valley the consequences of that kind of philosophy,” he will say. “You’ve been through hell and back.”
This post has been updated.