BLACKSBURG, Va.--Despite being subjected to withering Republican rebukes about his attacks on Mitt Romney, Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday kept up his criticism of the presumed GOP nominee -- although in subtler fashion.
Campaigning in Blacksburg, an emotional Biden invoked Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom's now-infamous "Etch A Sketch" remark referring to the Republican being able to restart what is said in the general-election campaign after the primaries. Democrats and even Republicans who ran against Romney called the comment an example of their rival's political malleability.
"This is not a mystery anymore," Biden said of the choice that voters face in the fall. "This is not a mystery, and the ability to take out that Etch A Sketch pad that Governor Romney's advisers said--the Etch A Sketch is gone. This is sort of written pretty clearly; it is almost--not in stone--it is clearly defined and it gives us an ability of the American people to have an absolute unfettered clear view."
Biden's remark came a day after he told a diverse crowd that included many African-Americans that Romney would “put you all back in chains" by unshackling Wall Street. Republicans reacted with outrage, calling it needlessly divisive, but Biden stood by his statement.
After Wednesday's speech, Republicans opted to pounce on a different Biden statement.
"Folks, where's it written we cannot lead the world in the 20th century in making automobiles?" the vice president said. That prompted Romney spokesman Ryan Williams to say in a statement: "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will ensure America leads the world in the 21st century by strengthening middle-class families and creating jobs."
Biden also continued attacking his rivals' plans for Medicare, including creating a voucher system.
"They get a voucher to go out and buy private insurance coverage," he said of senior citizens. "And you know how confusing it is to begin with, and I'm not being facetious. They get a voucher and because the voucher would not keep up with rising health costs, seniors would be forced to pay based on studies an extra $6,400 a year under the Ryan-Romney plan-- under the Romney-Ryan whatever it is now."
Biden's basic critique of the Romney-Ryan proposal is fair, but the $6,400 number is misleading. That number comes from a Congressional Budget Office analysis of Ryan's 2011 budget proposal, which was modified significantly in the last year to come more in line with Romney's own ideas.
Both men now support a system where seniors would be able to use vouchers to buy private products or the government-run program. Ryan also boasted the rate at which the value of those vouchers would grow over time.