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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid