Preparing for the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney’s campaign is pouncing on Vice President Joe Biden’s comment that the Republican presidential nominee would raise taxes on middle-income Americans who have been “buried the last four years.”
“We agree,” Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, said while campaigning in Burlington, Iowa, yesterday. “That means we need to stop digging by electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.”
Speaking in Charlotte, North Carolina, yesterday, Biden asked how Romney and Ryan can justify “raising taxes on the middle-class that’s been buried the last four years?” The vice president modified his remarks at a later event in Asheville, North Carolina, saying, “The middle class was buried by the policies that Romney and Ryan have supported.”
“But folks, the middle class is coming back,” he added.
Biden was repeating a central argument of the Obama campaign: The Republican ticket would return to the economic policies of former President George W. Bush.
“Massive tax cuts for the wealthy, eliminating restrictions on Wall Street, let the banks write their own rules,” he said. “We know where it ends. It ends in the catastrophe of the middle class and the Great Recession of 2008.”
President Barack Obama’s campaign said Romney’s team is taking Biden’s remarks out of context: “As the vice president has been saying all year and again in his remarks today, the middle class was punished by the failed Bush policies that crashed our economy -- and a vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is a return to those failed policies,” campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said.
Obama enters the debate with a lead over Romney in most national polls and in surveys of voters in the 10 or so states that both campaigns are focused on as crucial to deciding the Nov. 6 election.
Obama was ahead, 49 percent to 45 percent, in a Quinnipiac University survey of 1,912 likely voters taken Sept. 25-30. Obama led Romney 50 percent to 44 percent in the daily Gallup tracking poll for the period Sept. 25-Oct 1, and the president led 49 percent to 47 percent in an ABC News/Washington Post survey of likely voters conducted Sept. 26-29. Obama held a 49 percent to 43 percent advantage among likely voters in a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Sept. 21-24.
The two candidates skipped campaigning yesterday as they prepared for tonight’s debate at the University of Denver. The encounter starts at 9 p.m. Washington time.
Romney is in the Colorado capital going over briefing papers and practicing with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who has been playing the part of Obama. He accompanied Portman to a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurant a few blocks from his hotel for lunch.
“I’m getting there,” Romney said, when asked by a reporter if he was ready for the debate.
Preparing in Henderson, Nevada, the president took a side trip to see the Hoover Dam, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. “It’s spectacular and I’ve never seen it before,” Obama said of the 726-foot (221-meter) high concrete dam.
Romney’s campaign also held a conference call with former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who said Biden’s comments set the stage for the debate. The forum should highlight the difference between the two candidates on their approaches for creating jobs and helping the middle class, he said.
“Thank you Vice President Biden, for the first time in a long, long time, you’re right,” Sununu told reporters. “We have an economy in crisis. We have a president in denial.”
Sununu also poked fun at both campaigns for spending the last several days lowering expectations for tomorrow night.
“Based on the expectations game, I expect both candidates to vanish before our eyes,” Sununu said.