Biden: Economy a 'Depression for Millions and Millions of Americans'

(Image credit: Brandon Pollock/The Waterloo Courier/AP Photo)

Vice President Joe Biden today offered a blunt assessment of the plight of the unemployed, telling supporters at a campaign rally in Iowa that the economy remains "a depression for millions and millions of Americans."

"The unemployed are in real trouble," Biden said in a speech on the banks of the Mississippi River in Dubuque. "My grandpa used to say, from Scranton, he'd say, 'Joe, when the guy in Dunmore…is out of work, it's an economic slowdown. When your brother-in-law is out of work, it's a recession. When you're out of work, it's a depression.'"

"It's a depression for millions and millions of Americans," he said.

The VP, on his second stop on a two-day campaign swing through the Midwest battleground state, conceded that recovery from the recession has not come fast enough, but assured his audience that the administration's policies were bearing fruit, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

Biden said putting GOP rival Mitt Romney in the White House would erase progress and lead to potentially fewer jobs.

"Look Mitt Romney has been saying from the beginning … I'm a businessman, I'm a job creator. I was saying he didn't create many jobs but turns out I was wrong. You've got to give him credit: He created a hell of a lot of jobs in Singapore, China, India," Biden said referring to a recent Washington Post report that accused companies backed by Romney's Bain Capital of shipping work overseas.

"The problem is guys in my old neighborhood don't live in Singapore, they don't live in China," Biden quipped to laughter and applause.

"I can picture one guy … standing next to another guy in the unemployment line and saying 'Hey John, did you get offshored or outsourced? Which happened to you?' Do you think it matters to the American worker? Do you think it matters to the community?" Biden asked.

"There's a huge disconnect between what he says and what he means and what he's done," Biden said.

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Romney has vigorously disputed the outsourcing attacks, calling them a distortion of the facts that companies were expanding operations abroad - creating new jobs, not sending U.S. jobs overseas. Aides are reportedly seeking a retraction of the Washington Post story in a meeting with editors today.

"Vice President Biden today continued his misleading attacks on free enterprise and doubled down on the failed policies that have Democrats fleeing from this summer's convention," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams.

"The Obama Administration has no new ideas to help the middle-class or the millions of Americans suffering from chronic unemployment, so the president and his allies will keep trying to distract attention from the economy. Americans deserve better."

The Romney campaign has argued the Bain-backed companies mentioned by the Washington Post were creating new jobs rather than moving existing ones overseas and that they led to net gains in U.S. employment overall.

- Devin Dwyer and Jon Garcia