A day after the presumptive Republican presidential candidate drew jeers and boos from members of the nation's oldest civil rights organization, Vice President Joe Biden offered an animated, full-throated defense of President Barack Obama's vision for America and a scathing critique of Mitt Romney's.
Biden, addressing the 103rd annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told his Houston audience that he was a lifetime member of the NAACP. The audience responded to his 25-minute address with almost continual applause.
Biden told the gathering that Obama had saved the nation's financial system, "and in doing so prevented a worldwide depression. It wasn't a popular decision, but it was a necessary decision, and he was right."
The vice president credited Obama with rescuing the American automobile industry, "saving a million jobs and creating 200,000 new jobs in the automobile industry."
Biden said, "This is the man who made the call to go after Osama Bin Laden, a profound decision for our warriors and his presidency, but he made it and he made it on his own. Bin Laden is dead, and America is more secure because of this man's decision." His remarks were almost drowned out by applause.
A day after Romney vowed to repeal Obama's signature Affordable Care Act -- Romney irritated audience members on Wednesday by referring to it as "Obamacare" -- Biden trumpeted its benefits. "He prevailed where no president had done before," he said.
"This is a president who has the character of his convictions, and almost never since we've taken office, during this entire time, did the Republican Congress reach across the aisle to help," Biden said.
"Folks, their discipline is amazing," he added. "They have never let up. But neither has my guy. Neither has President Barack Obama."
Obama and Romney "have fundamentally different visions for the future of America," Biden said. "By the way, I think Mitt Romney is a fine family man. I believe he's driven by what he believes. But the differences are so basic on how we view the future of America."
Biden, using Romney's statements during the primary against him, laid out differences in education, energy policy, women's rights, health care and foreign policy. Social policy in a Romney presidency "would basically be a throwback to the 1950s," he said.
"We see a future where everyone has access to affordable health care." he said. "Romney sees health care a different way -- controlled by the insurance companies, where pregnancy is a pre-existing condition, where coverage can be taken away if you get sick or hit the limit, where Medicare is voucherized. Where 19 million people are cut off Medicaid. Where 30 million people have to wait another generation before they have a chance for affordable, decent health care."
The Obama administration believes in a tax system, Biden said, "where everyone, and I mean everyone, has skin in the game, and no one gets played for a sucker."
Briefly touching on differences with Romney on foreign policy, Biden accused the Republican of being stuck in the past. "This guy's vision of the future of American foreign policy is mired in the Cold War and the Cold War is over," he said.
Acknowledging that he was preaching to the choir, Biden asked his audience to imagine a Romney Justice Department and Supreme Court. The crowd booed.
"Character, conviction and vision," Biden said at the conclusion of his remarks. "I don't think it's even a close call."
Obama was scheduled to address the convention himself, but backed out, claiming scheduling conflicts. Before Biden took the stage on this the last day of the weeklong convention, the audience heard a taped message from the president in Washington.
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