Biden to voters: GOP will put you ‘back in chains’

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign denounced Vice-President Joe Biden’s inflammatory claim today that GOP policies would put Democratic voters “all back in chains.”

“President Obama should tell the American people whether he agrees with Joe Biden’s comments,” said a statement from the Romney campaign.

The incendiary comments were delivered in a morning stump-speech in Danville, Va., which is near the border with North Carolina.

President Barack Obama will likely lose those states in November, unless there’s a high turnout of his African-American supporters. A recent survey by Public Policy Polling, however, found that Romney stands to gain as much as 20 percent of the African-American vote in North Carolina.

Also, Obama’s team is generally trying to focus attention away from the economy, which is stalled, amid high unemployment and high deficits.

In his speech, Biden declared that “Romney wants to, he said in the first 100 days, he’s gonna let the big banks again write their own rules — unchain Wall Street.”

“They’re going to put y’all back in chains,” he added, in a low, threatening voice.

Roughly 40 percent of the 800-person audience was African-American, according to news reports.

“After weeks of slanderous and baseless accusations leveled against Governor Romney, the Obama Campaign has reached a new low,” the Romney campaign announced midday.

“The comments made by the Vice President of the United States are not acceptable in our political discourse and demonstrate yet again that the Obama Campaign will say and do anything to win this election,” he said.

Romney’s campaign also used the episode to portray Obama’s re-election effort as “a desperate campaign based on division and demonization,” according to an afternoon statement Romney’s spokeswoman, Andrea Saul.

“We now know he’s willing to say that Governor Romney wants to put people back in chains… [and is] accusing Mitt Romney of being a felon, having been responsible for a woman’s tragic death,” she said.

The Obama campaign sought there was a deny racial angle in Biden’s statement to his African-American supporters, and instead said Biden misspoke.

“Speaker Boehner, Congressman Ryan, and other Republicans have called for the ‘unshackling’ of the private sector from regulations that protect Americans from risky financial deals… the Vice President has often used a similar metaphor to describe the need to ‘unshackle’ the middle class,” said the statement, which was attributed to deputy campaign chief Stephanie Cutter.

“Today’s comments were a derivative of those remarks, describing the devastating impact letting Wall Street write its own rules again would have on middle class families,” said the statement.

Obama’s campaign, however, also tried to change the subject.

“We find the Romney campaign’s outrage over the Vice President’s comments today hypocritical, particularly in light of their own candidate’s stump speech questioning the President’s patriotism. Now, let’s return to that ‘substantive’ debate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan promised 72 hours ago, but quickly abandoned.”

The claim that the GOP’s deregulatory policies would damage the economy is a standard stump-speech claim by Biden and Obama, even though George. W. Bush supported the 1990s regulations that spurred the real-estate bubble.

Those regulations required banks to provide favorable mortgages to lower-income Americans, including many African-Americans.

Romney generally favors deregulation, but has not said he will try to roll back the 1990s regulations, including the controversial Community Reinvestment Act. The act was used by progressives to pressure many banks to make loans to lower-ncome people.

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Neil Munro