Vice President Joe Biden said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney represents a return to the past in foreign policy and is out of touch with the time, setting out an Obama-campaign line of attack as the general election race gets fully under way.
Romney is counting on “our collective amnesia” by aligning himself with the “discredited” policies of former President George W. Bush and promoting a Cold War mindset, Biden said at New York University, in the latest in a series of speeches designed to frame the issues in the presidential campaign between the former Massachusetts governor and President Barack Obama.
“But Americans know that we cannot afford to go back to the future,” he said. The “bumper sticker” slogan to sum up Obama’s record is, he said, “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”
The vice president’s speech comes as Obama is set to hold his first official re-election campaign rallies on May 5 in the battleground states of Ohio and Virginia, where he will formally begin to take on Romney -- a role that thus far has been reserved for Biden.
“Welcome to the general election,” campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters on a conference call last night. “Over the coming months, the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney will become clearer and clearer.”
First lady Michelle Obama will join the president for the back-to-back rallies at Ohio State University in Columbus and at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, the campaign said.
Romney declared himself the Republican presidential nominee on April 24 with wins in five primary contests. In a victory speech that night, Romney outlined a strategy of seeking to turn the president’s own promises against him and capitalize on voters’ disaffection with the economy.
The former Massachusetts governor vowed to use his business experience to “lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery,” declaring “the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years.”
The Romney campaign dispatched his advisers in advance of Biden’s speech to rebut his arguments and criticize the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
Dan Senor, who served as a top aide to former President George W. Bush’s Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, said Biden’s was a “fantasy narrative, if you will, about the Obama administration’s record” and the direction Romney would take the country as president.
In a conference call with reporters, Senor said Obama has left U.S. allies, including Israel and dissidents in Syria and Iran, “exposed and isolated.”
Biden said the former Massachusetts governor would institute policies that would be a throwback to Bush, “back to a foreign policy that would have America go it alone” and would lead to an isolation of the U.S. and a “waste of hundreds of billions of dollars and risk thousands of American lives on an unnecessary war.”
Looking ahead to next week’s rallies, Obama’s senior strategist, David Axelrod, called the events an “inflection point” and said the campaign is eager to have a debate about Romney’s business background. He said Romney, a co-founder of the private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC, has “hung his hat” on his business record.
“His business career was not about job creation,” Axelrod said. “It was about wealth creation for himself and his partners, and often it came through vehicles like outsourcing, leveraging companies with debt, bankrupting companies and making money off of those bankruptcies.”
The Romney campaign released a statement saying that Obama was trying to distract from his administration’s economic record.
“Americans shouldn’t be surprised that President Obama’s campaign will attack Mitt Romney for his experience in creating jobs,” said Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman. “Unfortunately, voters will have to expect that the Obama campaign will be running a campaign based on personal attacks to divert, distract and distort.”
Messina and Axelrod said Obama would be gradually phasing in regular campaign appearances. They said there were no additional campaign rallies to announce, noting that Obama has the challenge of running for president and holding the office simultaneously.
“The monologue is over,” Messina said. “Now Romney has to put his record and his agenda up against the president’s and we look forward to that debate.”