Vice President Joe Biden is spending some time in the Ohio Valley and in the process reminding voters, the Romney campaign and folks in the West Wing that he will be a formidable force in this year's presidential campaign. Biden connects with key voters who are critical to winning this year's election.
In Youngstown, Ohio, the vice president delivered a widely covered speech that, as much as any event in this campaign to date, set up the choice in November. Elections are about choices and Biden artfully drew the line for these key voters when he told them:
They don't get us! They don't get who we are.
More than any other candidate on the ticket in November (we will see who Mitt Romney picks as his running mate), Biden's down-to-earth, regular guy persona stands out and resonates with voters. And it stands in sharp contrast to Romney's personal and professional narrative. Ironically, Romney has been remarkably silent on his personal narrative, faith and private life, choosing instead to put his "Mr. Fix It" financial persona front and center for voters. The idea of the head of Bain Capital as the head of government won't sit well with these swing voters. Harry Truman was "Mr. Fix It"; Mitt Romney is "Mr. Pull it Apart, Sell the Pieces and Make Money at the Expense of the Worker."
Ironically for Romney, working class Americans are not opposed to wealthy presidents. To the contrary. The two wealthiest men to serve in the White House were our first and third presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Among the modern presidency, Presidents Johnson, Hoover, Roosevelt, Clinton and Kennedy comprise the sixth through tenth wealthiest presidents. Among this list is only a single Republican. Democrats and swing voters do vote for the 1 percent. But the "Romney rich" just doesn't feel right to so many voters, and Biden has tapped into that source of discomfort: "They don't get us! They don't get who we are".
Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Roosevelt had a common touch with the common man (though the common woman has now also become critical). Romney's touch is rehearsed and awkward, and for most voters, the only time they will touch a $2,000 suit is when they slap Mitt Romney on the back. Romney's list of phony common touch assertions range from immigration gaffes, betting Governor Perry $10,000, and claiming he knows what it's like to be out of work. Check the top 10 list from Rolling Stone here.
As Biden demonstrated in Ohio, his touch is genuine and natural.
To prove his point, Biden hit a DQ for some ice cream for him and his staff after a spaghetti dinner Wednesday night. Think Romney ever took the Bain team to DQ after raiding and dismantling many of their corporate acquisitions? No; they likely went to Morton's and ate with the 1 percent.