Published Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 | 11:52 a.m.
Updated Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 | 2:56 p.m.
Joe Biden completed a two-day campaign swing through Nevada on Thursday morning with a rally in Las Vegas, where he urged supporters to vote early and lashed out at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his positions on women’s issues and the economy.
More than 600 people attended the event at the Culinary Arts Academy, with most filling a small room where Biden spoke and more than 100 watching a video feed in an overflow room.
Biden fired up the Clark County Democratic Party base, telling his audience of union workers and other supporters, “We win Nevada, we win the election.”
After being introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Biden opened by reminding the crowd that early voting starts Saturday in Nevada, “so don’t wait until Election Day to vote!”
Driving the early vote turnout is a key part of the Democrats’ ground game. Four years ago, nearly 60 percent of voters turned out during the two-week early voting period prior to the election.
Elizabeth Wilson, 73, was decked out in a Barack Obama hat and a T-shirt covered in campaign buttons and stickers. Wilson said in the final weeks before the election, she’d like to see the Obama campaign emphasize women’s issues.
“I think the Republicans want to do away with a lot of women’s rights. They are on the wrong side of women’s issues,” Wilson said.
Perhaps the most talked about comment from Tuesday’s second presidential debate was a response Romney gave to a question on equal pay for women.
Romney said after he was elected governor of Massachusetts, he searched for qualified female applicants for Cabinet positions.
“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women,” Romney said.
Biden made sure to skewer that remark early in his 33-minute speech.
“On Tuesday, when Gov. Romney was asked a direct question at the debate on equal pay for women, he started out talking about binders,” Biden said to laughter. “Binders full of qualified women’s names. The idea that he had to ask somebody to put together a binder is unusual. By the way, he never did answer the question.”
Biden also painted Romney as someone who changes views depending on the circumstances and audience.
“When asked would (Romney and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan) guarantee to leave (Afghanistan) in 2014, they said, ‘Maybe; it depends.’ Like everything with them, it depends,” Biden said. “It depends on the day. It depends on where they are. It depends on who they are talking to.
"Gov. Romney has changed his position on so many things, you just don’t know.”
After the debate, the Romney campaign immediately reacted to a comment Biden made about Ryan.
“I don’t understand how they believe and they do believe Ryan has written a book called ‘The Young Guns’ with two other members of the House, no these are Republican leaders in the House. You had, unfortunately, the bullets are aimed at you,” Biden said at a point when there was laughter and an audience member made an inaudible comment to the vice president.
Ryan’s press secretary, Brendan Buck, said, “Today’s over-the-top rhetoric by Vice President Biden is disappointing but not all that surprising. In the absence of a vision or plan to move the country forward, the vice president is left only with ugly political attacks beneath the dignity of the office he occupies. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will bring serious leadership to Washington that will focus on an agenda of job creation and economic growth that benefits all Americans.”
On immigration, Biden said Romney, Ryan and the Republican Party is not only out of touch with the Hispanic community but with the majority of the American public.
The vice president criticized Romney’s economic policies as returning to the same strategy that caused the Great Recession.
“(Republicans) act like one day the great recession fell out of the sky and landed on our desk,” Biden said. “How do you solve the problem, if you don’t acknowledge what caused it?”
Maureen Tedesco, 82, lived in Las Vegas for 43 years but now lives in California. In town visiting family, Tedesco decided to attend the Biden event because, as a senior citizen, she said, she believes the two presidential candidates offer a clear choice.
“I feel like Romney and the Republicans are going after senior citizens,” Tedesco said. “Health care is a major issue for me as a senior citizen, and they are going to weaken Medicare.”
Tedesco was buoyed by Obama’s second debate performance, saying he did much better Tuesday than in his first debate.
Biden, meanwhile, jumped on comments made by Romney that 47 percent of the public is unwilling to take personal responsibility and quoted Romney as saying that “it’s not my job to worry about those people.”
“Well folks, you should worry about them. When they talk about that 47 percent, they are talking about my mom and dad who worked every day their whole life. My mom and dad are part of that 82 percent of that 47 percent. Over 82 percent of them pay their payroll taxes. They pay their income taxes. They pay the effective rate higher than Romney pays on his federal taxes.”
The Romney campaign, on the other hand, has criticized the Obama campaign for failing to offer specifics about a second term and the slow growth of the economy.
“Vice President Biden showed voters that the Obama campaign can only offer misleading attacks instead of discernible vision or plan for a second term,” Romney campaign spokesman Mason Harrison said in a statement after Biden’s speech. “In fact, President Obama seems to have given up, declaring at the recent debate that ‘there are some jobs that are not going to come back.’ The choice in this election is clear. Mitt Romney has bold plans for the country that will lower taxes for the middle class, create 12 million jobs, increase take-home pay, and cut spending to put us back on a path to a balanced budget.”
The audience at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas — run by 4th Congressional District candidate Steven Horsford — was filled with Culinary Union members clad in red shirts that read, “2012 Labor Vote.”
Prior to Biden taking the stage, the crowd filled the room with chants of “forty-seven percent,” “four more years” and “si se puede” (yes, we can).
Biden has visited Nevada four times this year and eight times since he became vice president. He was in Reno for a campaign event Wednesday.