SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. - While going for the jugular on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plans, Vice President Joe Biden borrowed words from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who'd called the Wisconsin congressman's budget proposals "right wing social engineering."
"Now, all of a sudden, Congressman Ryan says his budget doesn't actually cut vital programs and slow growth. … He's changed his whole view. … He said, 'I do not cut those programs, I just slow the growth of those programs," Biden said at the Sun City Center Community Association Friday.
"Well, that's the same budget that has already passed the House of Representatives with every Republican maybe but one or two voting for it, and the same budget that nobody accused of being a liberal - Newt Gingrich - called 'right wing social engineering.' That's Newt Gingrich's words, not mine. And all of a sudden, that's not their budget anymore. They already passed it!"
Shortly after announcing his presidential bid in May 2011, Gingrich called Ryan's plan for Medicare "right wing social engineering," "too big a jump" and "radical change" in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich said.
Gingrich later apologized, saying he used "language that was too strong" but whose "underlying principle … was right."
Ryan defended his budget against Gingrich's characterization at the time. "Hardly is that social engineering and radical," Ryan said on Laura Ingraham's radio show. "What's radical is kicking the can down the road, not doing anything to fix this problem and watching the whole system implode on itself."
Since Ryan joined the GOP ticket, Biden has used Ryan's budgets to attack Mitt Romney.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the president said the day after the debate that Romney's plans have become awfully sketchy. … I'm reluctant to correct the president on anything. But I would respectfully suggest they're not sketchy, they're Etch A Sketchy," Biden said. "You know those Etch A Sketch tablets that your granddaughters and grandsons have? Man, I tell you they're shakin' that sucker … and they're dialing in a new sketch."
Biden, on a two-day swing through Florida, a state he's campaigned in eight times before and one that he predicted could solidify the election for Democrats, didn't shy from encouraging his audience to participate in early voting.
"I want to remind you all, you don't need reminding, but in Florida you can vote now. Even before early voting starts on the 27th, just go to your County Supervisor of Elections and ask for an absentee ballot. Most places you can fill it out right there, and it is done. And folks, if you look around the country, in places like Iowa, there's early voting. I hope it keeps up, because we're winning the early voting.
"We need you. We need your help to win the state of Florida, and if we win the state of Florida, this election is over. This election is done, so go out there now and vote."