Biden casts deficit blame; Romney side fires back

Vice President Biden greets the crowd of about 2,000 at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Park Recreation Center in Fort Myers, Fla., where he talked about the economy. (Southwest Florida) News-Press, AP
Vice President Biden greets the crowd of about 2,000 at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Park Recreation Center in Fort Myers, Fla., where he talked about the economy. (Southwest Florida) News-Press, AP ((Southwest Florida) News-Press, AP)
Posted: October 01, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. - President Obama had been on the job less than a week when a top economic adviser told him and Vice President Biden that the country faced a trillion dollar deficit, Biden told a roomful of Florida supporters Saturday.

Obama replied, "But I haven't done anything yet," Biden recalled.

The mammoth deficit landed in Obama's lap, Biden said, because former President George W. Bush "put two wars on a credit card," and gave tax cuts to the wealthy.

Not long after getting the grim news about the deficit in 2009, the Obama White House said the country faced a long and painful financial recovery, even with major government intervention to stimulate the economy and save financial institutions.

The economy has been on voters' minds across the country, but especially in Fort Myers, located in a county that's suffered among the most foreclosures per capita in the country.

In his talk Saturday to more than 2,000 people at a community center in Fort Myers, Biden said the GOP "is all in the service for tax cuts for the super wealthy." He highlighted the perceived class differences between the Obama administration and the campaign of Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

He said $500 billion of the extension of the Bush tax cuts goes to 120,000 families.

Romney's campaign called Biden's comments laughable.

In an e-mail to the AP, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg cited the growth of the national debt under the Obama administration and said Obama's spending plan "is riddled with accounting gimmicks and tax hikes, rather than policies that will get our long-term debt under control."

She said Romney would cut spending and "put our nation on track toward a balanced budget."

Biden also continued to hammer Romney on a leaked video in which Romney described 47 percent of Americans as people who pay no federal income tax and "believe that they are victims."

Biden said that Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, also talked about similar themes in Young Guns, the book he co-authored.

"When they talk about the culture of dependency, I don't recognize the country they're talking about," said Biden. "The American people are so much better, so much stronger, take so much more responsibility than these guys give them credit for."

Biden spoke for about 40 minutes in Fort Myers, located on Florida's Gulf Coast. It was the second day of a two-day Florida campaign swing that started in two large retirement communities along the state's east coast.

All of the scheduled campaign events drew many retirees, near-retirees and white, working-class voters. The campaign looked to shore up support among those groups by talking about Medicare.

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