On Economy, Biden Says ‘We’re in Charge’

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Vice President Joe Biden told a South Florida radio station this morning that he and President Obama take responsibility for the state of the U.S. economy, knowing full well that the 2012 election appears to be a referendum on the issue.

“There’s a lot of people in Florida that have good reason to be upset because they’ve lost jobs. Even though 50 some percent of the American people think the economy tanked because of the last administration, that’s not relevant,” Biden told WLRN’s Phil Latzman.

“What’s relevant is, we’re in charge. And right now, we are the ones in charge, and it’s gotten better but it hasn’t gotten good enough. And in states like Florida it’s even been more stagnant because of the real estate market. I don’t blame them for being mad. We’re in charge, and they’re angry.”

Later, Biden acknowledged the president’s reelection bid was “understandably” shaping up to be a referendum on the administration’s handling of the economy.  But, he added, “it’s soon going to be a choice, soon going to be a choice,” referring to an eventual Republican nominee.

Biden stressed the importance of Florida to Obama’s reelection bid but said the battle to keep the state blue would be tougher than in 2008 because of an influx of pro-Republican independent groups expected to spend millions in the coming campaign.

While the administration has previously been critical of such widespread, moneyed outside influence, Biden today called it “totally legitimate.”

“We run the risk of being drown out in Florida,” he said. “Because unlike the last campaign, it is likely our friends on the other side are going to spend more money with these sort of independent PACs – by the way, totally legitimate. I’m not criticizing it. You have the Rove PAC  spending millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, etc.”

When asked to react to the Florida Republican Party’s decision to move the state’s presidential primary to Jan. 31, 2012, Biden showered the state with praise.

“I am of the view that there should be — the big important states should have a shot to make a difference in the outcome of the nominating process. You have to provide for some small states to be able to be in the deal so some unknown candidates who are qualified but don’t have a lot of money are able to compete,” he said.

“Far be it from me to suggest to the Republicans when they should schedule the Florida primary. … But anybody who thinks they can walk away from Florida and get elected president… I think is making a gigantic mistake in either of our parties.”