News / USA

Biden Makes Obama Campaign Appeal to Working-Class Voters

Vice President Joe Biden greets Lawrence Smith, 8, and Madison King, 9, both of Van Buren Township, Michigan, during a campaign stop at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan, August 22, 2012.Vice President Joe Biden greets Lawrence Smith, 8, and Madison King, 9, both of Van Buren Township, Michigan, during a campaign stop at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan, August 22, 2012.
x
Vice President Joe Biden greets Lawrence Smith, 8, and Madison King, 9, both of Van Buren Township, Michigan, during a campaign stop at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan, August 22, 2012.
Vice President Joe Biden greets Lawrence Smith, 8, and Madison King, 9, both of Van Buren Township, Michigan, during a campaign stop at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan, August 22, 2012.
Kent Klein
WHITE HOUSE — As the U.S. presidential campaign moves into its final months, Vice President Joe Biden is assuming a prominent role in working for President Barack Obama’s reelection. The president is relying on his vice president to deepen their appeal to a very important group of voters.

Many political analysts agree that persistent high unemployment and a stagnant economic recovery will make it more difficult for President Obama to win reelection in November.

To counter the economic challenges, the Obama campaign is concentrating on its appeal to middle-class and working-class voters, many of whom traditionally are some of the Democratic Party’s strongest backers.

To do so, Obama is emphasizing his plan to cut taxes for the middle class. And he has called on Biden to attack Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s plan to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes for businesses.

“And most of all, ladies and gentlemen, what is new, what is new about their plan? It is not only not new; it is not fair. It is not right, and the people who pay the price for their new plan are the middle class and the working poor,” said Biden.

Joel Goldstein, a law professor at Saint Louis University, has written extensively about the U.S. vice presidency. He said Obama has often struggled to connect with working-class Democrats, even during his 2008 primary election campaign against then-Senator Hillary Clinton.  

Goldstein said Biden has done a better job of appealing to the middle class.

“Part of the vice president’s assignment, really, is to connect to, sort of, working-class, middle-class Democratic voters who, in 2008, tended to support then-Senator Clinton more than Senator Obama, and who the president still has had some trouble connecting with,” said Goldstein.

Democratic officials often underscore Biden’s working-class origins. He was born in the eastern industrial city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where his father sometimes struggled to find work.

When Joe Biden was 10-years-old, his father moved the family to Wilmington, Delaware, where their circumstances were described as middle-class.

Goldstein said Democrats believe that background gives Biden added credibility with working-class voters.

“Vice President Biden, because of his association with Scranton, Pennsylvania, his more modest background, and just his style, I think, has been very effective in the past in connecting with that important Democratic constituency,” said Goldstein.

Part of Biden’s appeal, analysts say, is his ability to empathize with families in difficult economic situations, as he did in Tuesday’s campaign speech in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“You know, I talk about ‘the longest walk.’ You have heard me say that," said Biden. "The longest walk a parent can make is up a short flight of stairs, to their child’s bedroom, to say, ‘Honey, I am sorry you cannot go back to sing in the choir next year. You cannot play on that Little League team. Daddy, Mommy, we lost our jobs. The bank says we cannot live here any more.’ You know, you know people who have made that walk.”

But analysts point out that Biden’s populist charm comes at a price. He is known for departing from his prepared remarks, sometimes with unintended results.

At a campaign stop in Virginia last week, the vice president, in criticizing Mitt Romney's economic policies, made a reference to slavery that some African Americans and many others found offensive.

“He is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, [and] unchain Wall Street. They are going to put you all back in chains,” said Biden.

Mitt Romney was quick to respond.

“Another outrageous charge just came a few hours ago in Virginia, and the White House sinks a little bit lower,” said Romney.

Later that day, Biden clarified that he had meant to say “shackles,” a reference to Romney’s promise to “unshackle” the economy, rather than “chains.”  

Analyst Goldstein said Biden’s gaffe was a short-term distraction from the message the Obama campaign is trying to convey.

“To the extent that it did any damage, it was that it took the focus away from the effort that the Obama campaign was engaged in - of identifying [former Massachusetts] Governor Romney with the [his vice presidential running mate, Wisconsin Representative Paul] Ryan plan and its controversial aspects,” said Goldstein.

Still, the Obama campaign sees the vice president as a strong asset in reaching out to working-class voters, and Biden continues to campaign at factories, schools and country stores across the United States.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More