May 17th, 2012
12:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Biden to eastern Ohio: I'm just like you

(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Ohio's coal country Thursday, slammed rivals for claiming he was engaging in class envy by speaking about the middle class, saying he came from a family that helped build the American dream.

"I don't think these guys understand us, and I'm including 'us' because we come from the same kind of background," Biden said at a car dealership in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Biden was on the second day of a swing through the eastern edge of Ohio, a largely working class part of the key battleground state.

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"A lot of Romney supporters say we're engaging in class envy. Wealth envy," Biden continued. "Like my mom and dad didn't dream one of their kids could be a millionaire? Like my mom and dad didn't dream one of their kids could become president? Like my mom and dad didn't dream one of their kids couldn't invent the new, new thing?"

Biden said one moniker, used to describe his background, struck him as condescending.

"I get tired of being called 'Middle Class Joe,' like that somehow I'm just Joe and I don't dream. C'mon man. Look, you're the ones that built this country. This valley built this country," Biden said to cheers.

Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to middle class parents, went on to serve in the U.S. Senate for nearly 30 years. His 2011 federal income tax return indicated he, along with his wife Dr. Jill Biden, earned $379,035 in income last year.

Much of Biden's speech Thursday focused on the renewed success of the American auto industry, which President Barack Obama's campaign is promoting heavily as a signature achievement of the president's first term. Biden spoke Thursday in front of three Chevrolet Cruzes, a model manufactured in nearby Lordstown.

"I say, 'Hello Honda. Hello Toyota. Take a look. In the compact field, the best selling automobile for the first time in a long time. And that's because of the quality of the product," Biden said, pointing to the vehicles behind him.

Biden slammed Mitt Romney, the likely GOP nominee, who last week took credit for the turnaround of the American auto industry.

"By the way, I will take a lot of credit for a man having landed on the moon. Because although I was in school I rooted for it!" Biden joked, though the vice president was 26 years old when Americans first landed on the moon.

In his remarks, Biden also went after Romney's record at Bain Capital, reviving many of the same attacks he brought Wednesday in Youngstown, Ohio.

"Some of Romney's defenders say it's not fair to criticize Romney for this, and go on to point out that it's not the job of investors, not the job of Bain Capital, or any other company like that, not their job to create jobs. It's their job to create wealth for investors. That's true," Biden said, stipulating: "That's not job of president of the United States of America. The job is much bigger than that."

In a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee ahead of Thursday's speech, Rep. Bill Johnson labeled the White House's energy policies an "assault on coal," recalling comments Biden made in 2007 that seemed to vilify the industry.

"In 2007, let me remind you, Vice President Biden said coal was a bigger threat than high fructose corn syrup and terrorism, for crying out loud," Johnson said. "I don't know how many people are going to remind him of that today when he's in Martins Ferry, but someone should."

When questioned by Bill Maher during his run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007, Biden did list coal and corn syrup as more likely to shorten the lives of Americans than terrorism.

"Which would you honestly say is more likely to contribute to the death of your average American, a terrorist strike? Or high fructose corn syrup and air that has too much coal in it?" Maher asked.

Biden responded, "Air that has too much coal in it, corn syrup next, then a terrorist attack. But that is not in any way to diminish the fact that a terrorist attack is real. It is not an existential threat to bringing down the country, but it does have the capacity, still, to kill thousands of people. But hundreds of thousands of people die and their lives are shortened because of coal plants, coal-fired plants and because of corn syrup."

Johnson said he had no concerns about Romney's ability to connect to blue collar workers in Ohio, saying the likely GOP nominee had the right approach to the industry.

"I think Gov. Romney is going to represent the coal industry very well," Johnson said. "I've met him and we've talked about some of those issues. I believe he gets it."

Also see:

Obama campaign focuses on military families

Senate's all-day budget debate dominated by politics

Bain back-and-forth continues

Big spending and close polls in Wisconsin recall battle

Filed under: 2012 • Joe Biden • Mitt Romney • Ohio
soundoff (26 Responses)

    Rip Willard a new one Joe. He doesn't get US! He gets how to make a buck and screw people. Not the kind of man/woman you want running our country. He'll sell us out to the highest bidder.

    May 17, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. DavidH

    Joe doesn't lie when he says he is a man of the people. I mean, the guy commuted to Washington on the train! Can you imagine war criminal Cheney on public transport? Mitt Romney?

    May 17, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. justaminit

    First class warfare, now class envy. what a weak argument for giving the wealthy tax breaks at the expense of the middle class. Who started this "depression"? A bunch of greedy people who cost millions of working people reductions in their retirement savings, equity in their homes, and all that goes with the American dream. These are the same people trying to get Romney in the White House. It's not envy, it is idsgust at your greed.and narcisissm.

    May 17, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    What an insult to Eastern Ohio.

    May 17, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Tucano Fulano

    30 years at the trough !? Worse, Joe never did anything positive for Americans or the USA.

    May 17, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. Myviewis

    Yes, Biden is just like them with a great-grandfather who was a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, his grand-father an oil businessman and his own father was a very well-off businesman. Yeap, sounds like Biden is just a regular guy like all those people he is talking to. Seriously, who is he fooling with this non-sense?

    May 17, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Lady Fair – The real insult to Ohio is that Mittens wanted the auto industry to go bankrupt, and 12% of Ohioans jobs are auto related.

    May 17, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Gloria

    We are all alike. We are human and we are all different. We learn but we do not advance as we do what has been done from the beggining of humans and we continue to do it and so some have lots and others have little and some work hard and others do not. Some are born into better situations than others and some posses abilities that bring the rewards. We are all born into a world where fairness is a word, an opinion, a control word...a mere symbol. Some take advantage of that very nature of living on a world that cares not for our symbols, our opinions, or dreams for their gain and their power. They have always been here, as we have, and they always tell us they will change what has never changed and never will. So what would be best for us all...perhaps realizing we are the same even we we do not recognize anothers struggle becasue we see each other as black, white, wealthy, poor, male, female, young and old. Maybe what we need is something another cannot give us and that is empathy. That's something we have to develop ourself and no man or woman telling us we are different and others are unkind and only want to take from us will not create what we need most.

    May 17, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    I certainly hope that eastern Ohio is NOT as crazy as Crazy Joe! He's getting downright scary. And I still want to see his latest medical records.

    May 17, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Jane

    @Tucano Fulano: As opposed to all of your good works for the country. People like you sicken me.

    May 17, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. amf140

    He might be like me but I certainly don't want to be like him.........

    May 17, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Phil

    Joe, with all due respect, you are not like me. I don't lie.

    May 17, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. OGR99

    If this dude is just like Ohio...Wow.

    May 17, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. SFRich

    I used to live in eastern Ohio and can relate to the working class issues these people face. How one survives depends very much on one's ability to find decent work, and the loss of manufacturing—steel in particular—has made this area especially prone to supporting whichever political party promises to provide "a chicken in every pot" so to speak. The problem with Ohio voters is they forget it was Republican policies under 8 years of Bush that really screwed them. Sure, manufacturing has declined over a period of decades, but Bush's raid on the US treasury over his two terms, refunding the surplus he inherited from Clinton with tax cuts for the wealthy, while engaging in two wars, has made it difficult to stimulate the economy.

    The writing was on the wall in 2004 when Bush ran for reelection, but Karl Rove convinced the Ohio voters Bush was a good Christian. So the Ohio voters voted against their economic interests and went for the republican BS line. Sad... hopefully they'll have a bit more wisdom this year. While they're at it, Boehner needs to go!

    May 17, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Old and crazy? Is Biden calling eastern Ohio old and crazy?? Strange way to win an election but hey, it IS Joe Biden.

    May 17, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Myviewis

    Ohio wishes they were like VP Joe Biden with a rich family and in the Senate.

    May 17, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Ray

    Hey Joe you're on fire

    May 17, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. John, PA

    I agree with Joe Biden; you will be like those in Ohio, UNEMPLOYED, looking for a JOB!

    May 17, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. JerseyBill

    Biden is a fraud and a BS-artist who never held a job outside of government. What an insult to Ohio.

    May 17, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC


    Ohio wishes they were like VP Joe Biden with a rich family and in the Senate.
    Actually, most members of Congress are wealthier than Biden, most especially the Republicans. The wealthiest member of Congress is Darrell Issa with an estimated worth of $800 million.

    May 17, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Al

    This just keeps getting more bizarre and delusional. Biden, who in his entire life has only been a lawyer and an elected official, is pretending he's just like us little people? You folks on the left should look up gullible in the dictionary. It really is in there.

    May 17, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Phil

    I think the botox injections and hair plugs are effecting his ability to keep his grip on reality. Poor Joe

    May 17, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. John

    Romney is worth 250 million dollars Biden made 280,000 dollars last year. Romney makes that in speech engagements alone. Romney made his money as a vulture capitalist who does not care about anyone but himself and the 1%.
    When he was Governor of Massachusetts the state was 47th in job creation. He likes to call himself a job creator but he is really a job destroyer. Mitt Romney and Bain Capital have a reputation of leaving companies in ruin after they get finished with them. Only the rubble remain behind. Do not be fooled....

    May 17, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. pa ha

    ""America do not need another FOOL in the WHITE HOUSE. GW BUSH is the perfect example of how you can learn from a FOOL. MITT ROMNEY is a lying fool. He should not be a President. He is a muck-up liar. Mitt Romney lies on our current president like a Fool. He is lying about moving this country forward. ""

    May 17, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. Clarence Fleming

    Joe Biden is a great examplet as to why politicians should not be allowed to breed. So is Al Gore.
    Both are fathered by career poiticians and were brought up in career political families.

    May 17, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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