Mitt Romney is accusing President Barack Obama's campaign of reaching a new low after Vice President Joe Biden told supporters the Republican presidential candidates and GOP lawmakers would put them "back in chains."
An Obama campaign official said it was clear that Biden was talking about the risks of letting Wall Street operate without strong oversight.
Biden was addressing a rally crowd in Danville, Va., on Tuesday that included hundreds of black people. He said Romney wants to get rid of new Wall Street regulations Obama signed into law after the financial collapse of 2008.
Said Biden: "Unchain Wall Street. They're going to put y'all back in chains."
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Biden's comments are, quote, "not acceptable in our political discourse" and a, quote, "new low."
This is not the first time a politician has made a reference to "chains" in a public speech. During his presidential run, Republican Rick Santorum said "They will put you in chains called 'Obamacare,' and you will never break away," while criticizing Obama's health care law.
UPDATE -- 3:00 p.m.: Obama for America Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter released the following statement on Biden's remarks:
“For months, Speaker Boehner, Congressman Ryan, and other Republicans have called for the ‘unshackling’ of the private sector from regulations that protect Americans from risky financial deals and other reckless behavior that crashed our economy. Since then, the Vice President has often used a similar metaphor to describe the need to ‘unshackle’ the middle class. Today’s comments were a derivative of those remarks, describing the devastating impact letting Wall Street write its own rules again would have on middle class families. We find the Romney campaign’s outrage over the Vice President’s comments today hypocritical, particularly in light of their own candidate’s stump speech questioning the President’s patriotism. Now, let’s return to that ‘substantive’ debate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan promised 72 hours ago, but quickly abandoned.”
UPDATE -- 8/15/12 8:36 a.m.: At a campaign stop in Wytheville, Va., Biden clarified his remarks, noting that his "chains" comment was a nod to an earlier comment made by Paul Ryan that "a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy." Watch Biden's clarifying remarks below:
UPDATE -- 8/15/12 8:37 p.m.: In an interview with People magazine on Wednesday, President Obama defended Biden against criticism over his remarks.
"The truth is that during the course of these campaigns, folks like to get obsessed with how something was phrased even if everybody personally understands that's not how it was meant," Obama said.
Obama said Biden's remarks referred to what would happen if Republicans succeeded in getting rid of restraints on financial institutions.
"In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that," Obama said.
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