Vice President Joe Biden is pouncing on Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney in swing state Ohio, casting him as a corporate raider more interested in making profits than in the needs of workers.
In a speech set for delivery Wednesday in Youngstown, Ohio, Biden strikes hard at Romney, picking up on an attack line set this week in ads by the Obama campaign and by a super political action committee supporting the president's re-election.
Biden depicts the race as one between an Obama vision that promotes fairness and a Romney ideology that helps the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. It's a strategy that combines an attack on Romney with a sunny appraisal of the country's future under Obama.
"Then there's Romney economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities can be left to fend for themselves," Biden says, according to excerpts of his speech released by the campaign.
The speech comes a day after Romney portrayed Obama as an agent of reckless spending who is leading the country toward a threatening debt crisis. And it comes two days after the Obama campaign signaled it would make Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, a private equity firm Romney co-founded, an issue in the campaign.
In a statement Wednesday, the Romney camp argued Romney had a net job creation record both as a businessman and as governor of Massachusetts. It countered the attack on Bain by citing the failure of the solar energy company Solyndra, which received more than $500 million in Obama administration loans.
"President Obama has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on unsuccessful policies that have not created jobs, burdened future generations with massive debt and resulted in failed investments like Solyndra," Romney spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said.
The back and forth illustrates the power of the economy as the dominant campaign issue this year, leaving voters to decide whether the slow recovery represents a success or a failure.
The vice president specifically singles out Romney's time at Bain Capital and the fate of a Kansas City, Mo., steel mill that failed after Bain purchased it 19 years ago.
"Everyone lost their jobs," Biden says.
While the Missouri mill did fail, Romney had left Bain two years before the steel company's bankruptcy in 2001.
In choosing Youngstown for Biden's speech, the Obama campaign picked a symbol of rust belt economic struggles. But as Ohio's unemployment rate has dropped by 3 percentage points in two years, Biden is casting Obama economic policies as a success.
"There are signs of hope in the heartland," he said.