Biden to firefighters: Romney doesn't understand you
July 25th, 2012
05:34 PM ET
6 years ago

Biden to firefighters: Romney doesn't understand you

Philadelphia (CNN) - Vice President Biden spoke to a friendly convention of firefighters on Wednesday, praising them for their work and stating that Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations represent a threat to their economic livelihoods.

First calling Romney a decent family man, the vice president went on to portray the Republican presidential candidate as out of touch.

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"[Romney] said, 'Guaranteeing the government will keep its fire, police and teachers intact is not an effective way to get the economy rolling again,'" Biden quoted.

"I don't think he understands what you're all about....what makes you decide to go into this profession that you couldn't pay enough to 90% of the population, including me, to do what you do, everyday."

Biden also sought to tie Romney's policy priorities to those of others in the GOP.

"I think this new Republican Party looks at you as both the reason for - and the solution to– this God-awful recession we inherited," the vice president said. "We inherited, by the way, because of their policies –the same policies they're continuing to push."

"They look at your ranks and they see an easy place to cut budgets to accommodate their priorities. Not just you: cops, public workers, generally."

The vice president spoke to over 3,000 firefighters attending the 51st convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters in Philadelphia. President Obama will speak to the gathering, by telephone, on Thursday, CNN has learned.

It was sure to be a friendly reception. During his speech, Biden reminded the audience of his long ties to unions, and firefighters in particular, and played up his and the administration's work on their behalf. Many in the crowd applauded enthusiastically during Biden's speech.

"A Republican Congress elected in 2010, overwhelmingly bent on obstruction, obstructing our efforts to help you to protect your jobs and keep enough people on the force to be able to protect your lives," the vice president said, referring to GOP opposition to the Recovery Act. "Because what most people don't know out there is your lives are more in jeopardy, literally in jeopardy, when you respond [to emergencies] without a full complement of firefighters."

Despite claims from Republicans that the stimulus wasted billions and did not spur economic growth, Biden used a direct appeal to the firefighters to claim that it worked.

The act "allowed fire departments to re-hire, to avoid layoffs."

Throughout the speech, Biden cast the GOP as unmoored from its more principled past.

"This is not your fathers Republican Party," the vice president said. "They really, really believe that they have to cut you and millions of other middle class Americans in order to rebuild this economy. Because they believe it is core...that the way to rebuild the economy of this great nation is from the top down."

In response to the vice president's remarks, Romney campaign spokesman, Ryan Williams, sent a statement from a retired battalion chief for the Philadelphia Fire Department.

"Joe Biden can come to Philadelphia, and he can try and tell the hard working men and women of this city that he understands what we've been going through. But no matter what he says, he can't cover up the words of the President. The President may think the private sector is 'doing fine.' He may want small businesspeople to believe that they 'didn't build that.' But we know that he is simply out of touch with the struggles that middle class Americans are going through, and that he doesn't understand what drives the American economy. The President and Vice President should remember one thing – they didn't build our success. We did," said Fred Donnelly, retired, battalion chief, Philadelphia Fire Department.

Filed under: 2012 • Joe Biden • Mitt Romney • Pennsylvania
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Steve

    The Wall Street Journal determined that Romney's presidential bid is a train wreck in slow motion wreck and it is looking for an electable candidate To emerge from the Republican Convention.

    July 25, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. MAC

    What the Public Employees Union does not understand is the Tax Payer can no longer afford to pay more taxes to pay for the demands from the Unions and the pay offs that democrats gave those unions for votes. They think the rich can be taxed to pay for their deals but eventually it is going to be the middle class who are hit with the taxes because you can take 100% of the riches money and still not put a dent in the debt they way government spends money.

    July 25, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  3. Firefighters to Biden...

    We don't understand you.

    July 25, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  4. Lawrence Nwachukwu, PE

    Vice President Joe Biden is right. The stimulus or Recovery Act worked, it stopped an almost unprecidented recession, an economic hemorrhaging. Instead of the economy lossing 700,000 jobs a month, jobs are being created. Yes, the economy is still weak but that's why congress should espouse policies that foster job creation and continuing economic recovery instead of those that hamper it. About the stimulus, it worked. As Detriot, Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, etc.

    July 25, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  5. Really?

    Hey everybody- make sure you read the last paragraph of this article. Ha!

    July 25, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  6. Really?

    Biden thinks the GOP is unmoored from it's principled past? OMG! Look at the liberal, progressive, Socialist/Communist, Democrats! They haven't just become unmoored; they're unhinged!!!

    July 25, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  7. Mike in Texas

    FORWARD into the Obama FISCAL ABYSS

    The unfunded wars, tax cuts and Medicare Prescription D are the biggest deficit busters. All passes under Republican control. No, you don't get it!!

    July 25, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  8. zhenya

    Romney is an empty suit. No character, No personalty. No plans. An empty slate that will be the robot who will only delivers the confused havoc resulting from the competing interest of shortsighted neocons.

    July 25, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  9. Marie MD

    Way to go Mr. Vice President. The only people the flip flopper understands are people covered in green with money.
    I just read an article of how to tell when somebody feels out of place and uncomfortable and, not being a psychologist, what I have been saying about his photo op with the black kids and that infamous who let the dogs out fiasco is true.
    The wringing of the hands is one symptom of what in the world am I doing here and I would rather be anywhere but!

    July 25, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  10. g

    fire fighters get payed peanuts for saving property and lives–while mitt make millions destroying lives –and if the republicans get there way with privatizing fire dept they will get payed a lot less

    July 25, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  11. Pete

    Forward,remember Bushs illegal Iraq war costing over 60 billion a month for over 10 years,thousands of innocents dead,remember that?Never included in any federal budget or Medicare Part D,not included either,how much did they cost professor if you so up on facts!!Romney if elected will just run this country dry like with Bain and sell off parcels like empty lots at a home sale!!I know you hate this because you really dispise Romney but you know what he's the only clown in the circus left and you're stuck with him,like those obstructionistic clowns who'll be out of their jobs in November,don't say I didn't warn ya ,its coming to a head with people sick of your republicans and everything about them,they're not patriotic,they're ignorent fools being led to slaughter by Boehner and McConnell,those are the ones who helped continue Bushs agendas of doing nothing fiscally responsible,remember Cheney,he said budget deficets take care of themselves,that's pathedic,but its also republican isn't it!!

    July 25, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. charles

    Saying Obama is out of touch etc, is just plain stupid and ignorant of the facts. Not to mention Romney has nothing but criticism but is devoid of policy. Vote for me because I'm better doesn't sell unless you have policy to back it up. So far, Romney's offered nothing but a big mouth and a lot of misrepresentation of facts. Good luck with that, Mitt.

    July 25, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  13. charles

    Don't forget the Trillions the US owes for Bush's wars that have not been paid for. At least Obama's planned to pay for his use of money. Ask Mitt how he'll pay the Trillions back for Bush's wars. Then criticise Obama.

    July 25, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  14. charles

    I'm saddened that Fred hasn't offered a shred of fact and has disgraced the fire department by becoming a puppet for the Republicans. Sorry Fred, you just spewed the company line and didn't mention the good that has been done your brothers and sisters in arms. You said nothing about the FD and mentioned only the general GOP rhetoric. Sad. I would have expected far better conduct from an officer. Lastly, because you are charactarized as a former officer you have a responsibility to act like one. You did not and I am ashamed for you.

    July 25, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. charles

    By the way, show me ANYTHING that shows evidence of a program Romney has offered to ANYONE. He's offered NO POLICY on ANYTHING.

    July 25, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  16. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Perhaps when your house gets burned down, you MIGHT, maybe understand the situation. When someone breaks into your home and rapes or kills your wife or daughter, then you may catch on....there are no enough out there to protect he number of people living in the cities! Obviously since the Republicans are against can't comprehend this sitution Mr. Biden is discussing!!

    July 25, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  17. ohio voter

    remember SB5 in Ohio–this was a republican led bill by shannon jones.
    If this is what all of you police officers and teachers want more of-having to
    fight bills like this then we should just go ahead and elect romney. Kasich was behind the passage
    of SB5-Kasich has done very little for this state–i think this should be a big indication that we would
    do well to elect democrats more often if we care about these officers, firefighters, teachers, etc.
    Romney will really not care if you get laid off or not.

    July 25, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. GOPer

    Firefighters are paid by the state, not the federal government. If a state is going bankrupt and making too many promises, what can the federal government do? If you print more money, the seniors on fixed incomes just lose more and more to inflation and a more worthless dollar. Besides, what does scrappy Scranton Biden know about firefighters?

    July 25, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  19. Phil in KC

    I actually liked Joe better, during the last election, than Obama. So I was pleased when he chose him to be VP. I think Joe does a better job of representing the middle class than any of the Republicans. I like the way he doesn't pull punches – he just puts it out there.

    July 25, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  20. DJ

    It's ironic that Biden says Romney doesn't understand what you're all about when in fact Biden doesn't really know who he is. He claims to be a Roman Catholic but is in favor of abortion and gay marriage. He needs to understand if he is Roman Catholic and understands what his church believes, or if he is not Roman Catholic and is more unitarian and is pro gay marriage and pro abortion.

    July 25, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  21. n_ike


    "..Government exist to provide for the people and the private sector what they CAN AFFORD...does not exist to provide jobs for everybody..."

    First teachers, now it's the pesky firefighters causing our fiscal issues? Get real. No GOP conservative shares this opinion with you. That's not conservative thought, it's anti-institutional. You don't want firefighters, don't want to pay them the honest money they deserve for what they do, the kind of pay that gives incentive for honest good people to do such work, move to a 3rd world country.

    July 25, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  22. sky

    Im a Independent voter who will vote for Obama, Mitt just don't understand the economy or the middle class people.
    Self- Reliance party of me

    July 26, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  23. CryBabies

    I think the headline is wrong....Its not that Romney doesn't understand the firefighters, Its that the firefighters don't understand Biden....go figure!

    July 26, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  24. CryBabies

    @ Bootstomper....The poll was lopsided with democrats so don't get too excited!!

    July 26, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  25. Larry

    The issue as with most elections is who will do the most damage and who is the bigger clueless out of touch moron in this case that would be romney

    July 26, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
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