Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Democratic National Convention. (Charles Dharapak/AP)CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Vice President Joe Biden has famously distilled President Barack Obama's argument for re-election to a simple phrase: "Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive." On Thursday evening, the scrappy former senator delighted Democrats gathered at their national convention in Charlotte with a long-form version of that slogan.
Speaking from his "ringside seat" to Obama's struggles since January 2009, Biden praised the president he has watched at work and told Americans worried about the still-sputtering economy that "America has turned the corner."
"Yes, the work of recovery is not yet complete, but we are on our way," said Biden. "The journey of hope is not yet finished, but we are on our way. The cause of change is not fully accomplished, but we are on our way. So I say to you tonight, with absolute confidence, America's best days are ahead of us, and, yes, we are on our way."
The speech was vintage Biden--peppered with "literally" (not always used correctly) as well as "folks," and leavened with snapshots from his working-class upbringing. And in classic Biden style, he drifted from his prepared remarks almost immediately.
The vice president roughed up Mitt Romney, suggesting that the former Massachusetts governor would have failed both the GM and the bin Laden tests (though it's worth noting that Biden himself has said he opposed the bin Laden raid).
He cited Romney's comment that it was not worth "moving heaven and earth" to get the elusive al-Qaida mastermind. And he savaged the Republican standard-bearer for opposing the auto bailout.
After noting that Romney's father, George Romney, had led American Motors, Biden said that Romney opposed the rescue because "he saw it the Bain way," a reference to Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded and built into an investment powerhouse.
"I mean this sincerely, I think he saw it in balance sheets. And write-offs," said Biden. "Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profits. But it's not the way to lead your country from its highest office."
"President Obama and Governor Romney they're both loving husbands they're both devoted fathers. But let's be straight. they bring a vastly different vision and a vastly different values set to the job," the vice president said.
Thanks to Obama, he declared, "we can now proudly say what you've heard me say the past six months: Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive."
"My fellow Americans, America is coming back and we're not going back! And we have no intention of downsizing the American Dream," he said.
"Folks, we know we have more work to do. We know we're not there yet. But not a day has gone by, in the last four years when I haven't been grateful as an American that Barack Obama is our President because he always has the courage to make the tough decision."
A Romney campaign spokeswoman scoffed at Biden's claims.
"At the 2008 Democratic Convention, Joe Biden assured middle-class families better days were ahead if they elected Barack Obama. Four years later, it's clear voters aren't better off," she said in a statement.
"The middle class is shrinking, with fewer good-paying jobs, skyrocketing household costs, and poverty headed toward levels unseen since the 1960s," she said. "As president, Mitt Romney will deliver relief for struggling middle-class families."