Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it. That’s the message Vice President Joe Biden drilled in to a crowd in eastern Ohio Wednesday, playing up his working-class roots.
“They don’t get us. They don’t get who we are,” Biden bellowed. “My mother and father dreamed as much as any rich guy dreams.”
“Absolutely,” a man in the audience volunteered.
In a passionate speech at M7 Technologies, an advanced manufacturing facility in Youngstown, Biden used his own working-class roots — his family dealt with job losses and uncertainty, he said — to connect with a crowd in one of the most economically hard-hit areas in the country.
Biden hit the basic points of the campaign’s economic message as well. Manufacturing is growing at its fastest rate since the 1990s, including 40,000 new manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Biden said. He contrasted that with examples of factories closing after they were acquired by Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney ran.
“In the 1990s, there was a steel mill in Kansas City, Mo. It had been in business since 1888,” Biden said, according to prepared remarks. “Then Romney and his partners bought the company. Eight years later it went bankrupt.” While the workers lost their jobs, “Romney and his partners walked away with at least $12 million,” Biden said.
“Romney and his friends believe in helping those at the very top and let everyone else fend for themselves,” Biden said. That approach, Biden said, represented a return to the same philosophy that devastated Ohio during the Bush administration.
But Biden bracketed the standard stump speech with his own personal story. His father once came to his bedside to explain that he had lost his job and would have to head to Wilmington, Del., to look for more work, Biden said. He invoked the image of a parent heading up the stairs to his children’s bedrooms to relay the bad news.
Romney is a nice guy, Biden said, but “he doesn’t get what’s at the core of all this. It’s about people’s dignity.”
Working-class Joe is certain to be a staple of the campaign trail, assuring voters that he’s just like them. It’s one thing to call Romney rich and out of touch — it’s another to discuss shared experiences with workers.
Watch Biden’s speech:
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.