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In Iowa speech, Biden targets Romney on outsourcing

By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden contrasted the Obama administration’s efforts to boost domestic manufacturing with what he said was Mitt Romney’s track record of outsourcing, both in business and as governor of Massachusetts.

Biden tailored his latest campaign pitch to a heartland audience, telling a crowd at a Davenport, Iowa, engineering plant that the Obama policies have not only revived American manufacturing, but spurred ancillary growth in the communities around those production hubs.

“The middle class will only grow if we build an economy that can support the middle class. And manufacturing is not the only part, but it’s a critical part to bringing back the middle class,” he said.

Whereas 5.8 million manufacturing jobs were lost in the last decade, Biden said, more than 400,000 have returned since 2010 through the trend of “insourcing.” Some companies who have returned production to the United States can’t fill all the jobs they have available today, he added, something the administration is also working to address.

It’s there that Biden, playing his role as the re-election effort’s primary attack dog, turned his focus on the most likely Republican foe in November.

When Romney was the head of Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, companies it owned moved production overseas, Biden said. During his time as governor, he “repeatedly slashed funding for workforce training,” and vetoed legislation “that would have stopped the state from outsourcing (state) contracts.”

Some of the examples cited by Biden were notable in that they hadn’t been used previously by Republican candidates, signaling that the president’s re-election team is armed with a deeper well of opposition research than Romney’s GOP rivals have had available.

“Is it any surprise to you that Massachusetts under Governor Romney was losing manufacturing jobs twice as fast as the rest of the country?” Biden asked.

“Governor Romney’s business practices and his policies have clearly benefited the wealthy and most powerful among us, often at the expense of working- and middle-class families.”

Biden’s speech in Iowa was the third in a series of “framing” addresses he’s been giving to begin outlining the Democratic ticket’s general election argument against Republicans.

The first, in Toledo, Ohio, touted the resurgent U.S. auto sector. In Florida last week, Biden warned seniors about Romney’s plans on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, saying Republicans would end the latter program “as you know it.”

Iowa Republican Party chairman A.J. Spiker responded with a statement saying Iowans were “fed up” over the increased cost of “everything from food to gasoline to health care premiums,” and the campaign rhetoric wouldn’t change that.

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