Vice President Joe Biden asked Mitt Romney to "show us his (papers)" during his keynote speech Tuesday at the National Council of La Raza annual conference in Las Vegas, Nev.
Romney's tax papers, that is.
Biden juxtaposed Romney's previous statements in support of Arizona's immigration enforcement law -- and its so-called "show me your papers" provision -- with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee's release of only one year's worth of tax returns.
"When his father, George Romney, was a candidate for president in 1968, he released 12 years of tax returns because, as he said, 'One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show,'" Biden said to a crowd of approximately 2,000 gathered at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. "His son has released one year of his tax returns. Making a lie of the old adage: Like father, like son. He wants you to show your papers, but he won't show us his."
Biden, speaking in support of the re-election of his boss, President Barack Obama, pointed to the more than two dozen passed or proposed voter-identification laws since 2011 -- laws that opponents including Biden and Obama say will suppress minority votes -- as an attack on civil rights.
"Imagine what the Supreme Court will look like after four years of Governor Romney," the vice president said. "Imagine what it will act like. Imagine what it will mean for civil rights, voting rights, and so much we have fought so hard for so long to accomplish. Imagine a Justice Department that supports, rather than challenges, continued efforts to suppress the right to vote. Because folks that and so much more will happen if Governor Romney wins."
In a survey of more than 800 conference attendees that NCLR released Monday, 36 percent of respondents identified jobs and the economy as the most important issues to the community, immigration followed at 29 percent, and education was the top priority for 21 percent of attendees.
The survey echoed what previous polling of Latinos has shown, and Biden attacked Romney's economic policy, including his support for extending Bush-era tax cuts to the very wealthy.
"The tax cut will cost $1 trillion, 55 percent of which goes to just 120,000 households in America, households of an average income of $8.4 million," Biden said, arguing that Romney would cut social and educational programs such Head Start, adversely affecting young Americans and families.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will chair the upcoming Democratic National Convention, addressed the crowd prior to Biden. Villaraigosa called for comprehensive immigration reform free from partisan politics and applauded the Supreme Court's decision to strike three of four provisions of Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070.
"When President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to stop deportations of the Dream Act-eligible youth, a dark cloud was lifted for hundreds of thousands of young people," Villaraigosa said, noting that the policy change was a stop-gap measure.
Biden was accompanied by his wife, Jill, who introduced him to the La Raza audience. As the vice president began his speech, he poked fun at his propensity for off-the-cuff statements that later need to be explained.
"I have a bad habit of saying what I believe, and I'm going to say it today," he said to laughter and loud applause.
Tuesday is the final day of the four-day NCLR annual conference. This is the first time that the nationwide civil rights organization's national conference is in Las Vegas. The 2013 conference will take place in New Orleans.
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