DANVILLE, Va.--Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday told a diverse crowd here, including many African-Americans, that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would “put y'all back in chains" by unshackling Wall Street.
Biden told more than 800 ticketed supporters that Romney wants to repeal the financial regulations enacted after the Wall Street crash of 2008. “He’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules – unchain Wall Street!” Biden said. Then he added, “They’re going to put y'all back in chains” with their economic and regulatory policies.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Biden’s comments “are not acceptable in our political discourse and demonstrate yet again that the Obama campaign will say and do anything to win this election. President Obama should tell the American people whether he agrees with Joe Biden’s comments.”
Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager of the Obama campaign, called Saul’s statement “faux outrage." Cutter said on MSNBC that Biden was “using a metaphor to talk about what’s going to happen” if Romney is elected and financial reforms are repealed, and added, “We have no problem with those comments” in their full context.
Later on Tuesday, after his remarks went viral, Biden stood by them. "The last time these guys unshackled the economy, to use their term, they put the middle class in shackles," he said. "That’s how we got where we are. Nine million jobs lost, wage stagnation, 16 trillion dollars in wealth you all lost, in your home equity, in your 401ks, and your pension plans – you’re the ones that got nailed. All of America except for the very few."
"I’m using their own words," Biden said, referring to Republicans' use of words like "shackles" when discussing government regulation.
The Obama campaign has also put out a statement that described Biden’s remark as a variation on comments Republicans have made about unshackling the private sector, and his own frequent references to the need to unshackle the middle class. “Today’s comments were a derivative of those remarks, describing the devastating impact [that] letting Wall Street write its own rules again would have on middle class families,” the campaign said.
Biden is on a Southern swing to North Carolina and Virginia this week. “With you, we can win North Carolina,” he said at the end of his speech, mistakenly referring to the bordering battleground state that he visited on Monday.
In the past month polls of Virginia have ranged from showing a tie to putting Obama ahead by 4 percentage points, within the margin of error. North Carolina is also a toss-up state.