Joe Biden tosses raw meat to GOP
By Ivan Couronne, AFP
October 4, 2012, 10:36 am TWN
DENVER, Colorado -- Vice President Joe Biden inadvertently tossed raw meat to Republican rivals barely 24 hours ahead of Wednesday's debut presidential debate, saying the middle class has been "buried" during the last four years.
With President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney laying low the day before the Denver showdown, the spotlight shifted to the running mates, and Republicans suggested Biden's gaffe marked a stunning admission five weeks away from the Nov. 6 election.
Speaking to supporters in North Carolina about the Romney campaign's tax plan, Biden asked "How they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried in the last four years?"
The White House quickly sought to douse the flames, saying Biden was talking about how President George W. Bush's policies continued to hurt the middle class deep into Obama's term.
Biden himself offered a correction on his official Twitter feed: "The middle class was buried by the policies that Romney and Ryan have supported."
But the Republicans, who argue that the middle class has been hard hit by four years of an Obama economy, let fly in the blink of an eye.
"Agree with @JoeBiden, the middle class has been buried the last 4 years, which is why we need a change in November," said a tweet from Romney's official Twitter account.
His running mate Paul Ryan also piled on.
"Unemployment has been above 8 percent for 43 months. Our economy is limping along right now. Vice President Biden, just today, said that the middle class, over the last four years, has been 'buried.' We agree," Ryan told a rally in Iowa.
"That means we need to stop digging by electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States."
Republicans suggested it would be an easy punch line for Romney during the prime-time debate, but Obama's team warned that the multimillionaire would likely have some explaining to do about whether his offshore holdings were set up to avoid taxes.
On the eve of the clash in Denver, a New York Times report suggested tax arrangements of Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, may have helped enhance his wealth.
"This raises a lot of questions that the Romney campaign should have to answer" on Wednesday, said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
"We look forward to hearing what he has to say."
The Times examined thousands of pages of previously unreported Bain documents relating to dozens of offshore holdings in the Cayman Islands.
The paper said the arrangements in some cases allowed the former venture capitalist's retirement account to avoid taxes and may have cut his personal income tax bills.