WASHINGTON — Targeting the Republican frontrunner, Vice President Joe Biden told New Hampshire Democrats on Tuesday that President Barack Obama would be an advocate for the middle class, casting Mitt Romney as someone who would side with the wealthy.
Biden, in a video conference with party activists, said a recent comment by Romney – "I like being able to fire people" – was "probably taken a little out of context." But he said Romney "thinks it's more important for the stockholders and the shareholders and the investors and the venture capital guys to do well than for those employees to be part of the bargain."
Biden, speaking shortly after several news organizations declared Romney the winner of the New Hampshire primary, defended Obama's record, saying the administration "inherited a mess" and "did what we had to do and we faced in the process an absolutely unified opposition dead set against every single thing we tried to do."
The vice president said the "grand bargain that has allowed the middle class to prosper in the last century has been basically ignored by these guys," referring to Republicans, "and we have one overarching commitment – to give the middle class a fighting chance."
"The country is ready to move. We just got to clear the brush out of the way here," Biden told Democrats gathered at local house parties. "The next four years we're going to have an opportunity to really do the things we came to do and do it without the kind of recalcitrant interference we've had."
The vice president was offering a rebuttal to months of criticism from Republicans in New Hampshire, the home of the nation's first presidential primary. Romney and the GOP presidential field have accused Obama of mishandling the economy, arguing that the president's policies have made the recession worse.
Obama made a similar speech to party loyalists last week on the night of the Iowa caucuses, reviewing the administration's work to bring home troops from Iraq, sign into law a major health care overhaul and end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.
While Obama faces no primary opposition, Democrats were trying to use the New Hampshire primary to build their campaign organization and recruit new volunteers. New Hampshire was a roadblock to Obama's nomination four years ago, when he was defeated by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the state's primary after winning Iowa's leadoff caucuses. Obama carried New Hampshire in the 2008 election, but the state is expected to be heavily contested in the fall.
Obama's campaign has opened seven offices in New Hampshire, more than the leading Republican contenders, and held more than 500 events since the president announced his re-election campaign.
Biden has made six trips to New Hampshire since the Obama inauguration, including separate trips last October and November to promote the president's jobs bill. He has not ruled out a potential presidential campaign in 2016.