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Biden says GOP convention attacks not ‘on the level’

By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden on Friday charged Mitt Romney with observing a double standard when it comes to government bailouts, blasting the Republican presidential nominee for his opposition to an auto industry rescue package even after he reportedly benefited from government aid to support his private equity firm.

The day after Romney accepted the GOP nomination in a speech to party delegates, Biden highlighted a Rolling Stone magazine report that Bain Capital had secured loans from the FDIC that ultimately cost taxpayers $10 million.

The vice president delivered that message from Lordstown, Ohio, a part of the key battleground state that depends on auto industry jobs. Romney, Biden said, claims now to be against bailouts, and he cited the Republican candidate’s New York Times op-ed article headlined “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

“He says it’s bad for business. Except when it comes to his business,” Biden said. “It was one thing when a million middle-class jobs were on the line. It was another when his own financial interests and those of his partners were on the line.”

With President Barack Obama meeting with U.S. military personnel in Texas on Friday, the task of responding to the Republican convention fell to Biden, who accused the series of GOP speakers of a mix of amnesia and obfuscation.

Biden said the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., this week showed the stark choice before the nation this November. He also accused the party of misleading voters, saying much of what Americans heard from the convention was “not on the level.”

He specifically cited Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s “stirring” speech on Wednesday that seemed to blame Obama for the closure of a Janesville, Wis., GM plant.

“The one thing the congressman was right about … it was devastating for the people in his community. But what he didn’t tell you was that plant in Janesville actually closed while President Bush was still in office,” Biden said.

Though Republican speaker after speaker railed about the state of the economy and growing debts, Biden said, they ignored their party’s role in that collapse. Again, he singled out Ryan.

“When Congressman Ryan came to Congress, things were doing just fine. Balanced budgets, middle class thriving,” he said. “What they didn’t say is the day we were sworn in, we were handed a bill for a $1 trillion deficit for that year, for that fiscal year. They had increased the national debt by $5 trillion.

“How do they think we went from a surplus and the middle class doing well to the time when we came into office, this disaster?” he asked.

Biden said he was “absolutely certain” the nation is rebounding.

“I am absolutely certain we are on our way to rebuilding the middle class to be more vibrant than it was before the collapse. And the reason I am certain is I know you. I was raised with you. I know that given a chance we have never, ever, ever let our country down,” he said.

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