Vice President Joe Biden Thursday gave a raucous rebuke of likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s NAACP speech, defending the health care law and warning that a Romney White House would be a threat to civil rights and voting rights.
Biden reeled off President Barack Obama’s first-term accomplishments, from killing Osama bin Laden to approving and equal pay provision for women to the health care law, as attendees of the Houston convention roared in approval.
“He passed the Affordable Care Act, a goal strived for by presidents since Teddy Roosevelt,” Biden said. “It required him early on to use up almost all of his political capital. He prevailed where no president had done before.”
Romney told the NAACP convention Wednesday that if he’s elected president he would repeal Obamacare. His promise triggered long and loud booing from a convention hall full of black people.
“He insulted the NAACP by talking about Obamacare and charter schools,” said Deborah Raymond, a retired California teacher told reporters. “Biden gave us hope and inspiration to vote for Obama in November.
Biden lit it up.”
Biden said Obama has been able to accomplish much despite overwhelming resistance from congressional Republicans.
“Their discipline was amazing,” he said. “They never let up. But neither has my guy, neither has Barack Obama. He hasn’t given up.”
Biden said a Romney presidency would be a return to 1950s-style domestic policy and a Cold War-era foreign policy. He asked conventioneers to envision what the Justice Department and Supreme Court would look like under the former Massachusetts governor.
“Remember what this at its core was all about, why this organization at its core was all about,” he said. “It was about the franchise. It was about the right to vote. Because when you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things.”
Biden noted that most Republicans support photo identification and other voter-access measures that have been passed in more than a dozen GOP-controlled states in time for November’s election.
The NAACP, and other groups, feel the laws are efforts to suppress the votes of blacks, Hispanics and others.
“ …We see a future where those rights are expanded not diminished,” Biden said, “where racial profiling is a thing of the past, where access to the ballot is expanded and unencumbered…They see a different future where voting is made harder, not easier.”
Romney made no mention of the voting law controversy in his speech Wednesday. His campaign said it wasn’t impressed with the vice president’s remarks.
“The Black American community has struggled with high unemployment under President Obama and Vice President Biden’s speech today offered no new ideas or solutions,” Tara Wall, an adviser for Romney’s campaign, said in a statement. “Mitt Romney will enact policies that will lower taxes, encourage small business hiring, reform our education system, and give all Americans an opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
Biden addressed the NAACP after the White House said last week that Obama would be unable to attend the Houston conference. Some convention attendees and black leaders argued that Obama should have gone to the convention.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that Obama isn’t taking black voters for granted. Obama delivered regrets and remarks to the convention via video Thursday.
But the affable Biden proved to be more than enough. He talked about his life-long NAACP membership and acknowledged that black voters “brought me to the dance” by helping him get elected to the Senate and the vice presidency.
The only time Biden got jeered Thursday was when he said “Let me close,” a signal that his speech was about to end.