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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs