GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan kept up the assault on Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday, saying that his recent "chains" remark was a "desperate" attempt to save a flailing campaign.
Biden has drawn criticism from conservatives for comments earlier this week at a campaign speech in which he accused GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney of pursuing an economic agenda that would put the middle class "back in chains." He later attempted to clarify that the words were a play off the frequently used Republican phrase about working to "unshackle" the private sector, downplaying efforts to depict them as racially charged.
But Ryan, like many Republicans -- including his running mate, who on Tuesday claimed the line was indicative of Obama's "campaign of division and anger and hate" -- saw something more divisive in the remarks.
"You know, these are the kinds of things you say when you're desperate in a campaign," he told Sean Hannity on Fox News Radio. "I think you're going to hear more of these things as we go on because they have a terrible record, they can't run on it, so they're going to kind of sink this campaign to these low levels to try and distract people, to try and you know, stoke the emotions of fear and envy."
Ryan went on to predict that the tone of the Obama campaign would end up turning off voters.
"It's just not going to work. People are going to see through this. We've gone from hope and change to anger and division and blame and attack and I think people are going to see through this," he said.
While Republicans appear to have mounted a coordinated effort to keep Biden's words front and center, Democrats have responded, calling the issue a “faux outrage” that distracts from the "substantive debate" Romney and Ryan had earlier promised to present.
Obama was later compelled to speak on the issue. In an interview with People magazine, he portrayed the scrap over Biden's comments as the latest shiny object for Republicans and the media to fixate on.
"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. "That's sort of the nature of modern campaigns and modern coverage of campaigns. But I tell you, when I'm traveling around Iowa, that's not what's on people's minds."