Published August 16, 2012
Paul Ryan is taking on the Obama campaign directly over Vice President Biden's "back in chains" comment, calling them the mark of a "desperate" campaign as President Obama defends his running mate against bipartisan criticism.
In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Radio, Ryan kept up the new tough tone that Mitt Romney set earlier in the week.
"You know, these are the kinds of things you say when you're desperate in a campaign," Ryan said of Biden's comments. "I think you're going to hear more of these things as we go on because they have a terrible record and can't run on it so they're going to kind of sink this campaign to these low levels to distract people.
"To try and you know, stoke the emotions of fear and envy, and it's just not going to work. People are going to see through this. We've gone from hope and change to anger and division and blame and attack and I think people are going to see through this," he said.
Ryan's remarks echoed aggressive comments by Romney on the stump Tuesday evening.
The president, though, is standing by his No. 2.
He also brushed off Sarah Palin's recent suggestion on Fox News that he drop Biden from the ticket in favor of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and a Fox News contributor, had said Biden's comments are the latest example of how he "really drags down that ticket."
Obama, in an interview with "Entertainment Tonight," downplayed Palin's comments.
"We don't spend a lot of time worrying about the chatter and the noise and this and that," he said. "The country isn't as divided with gaffes or some stray remark as Washington is. Most folks know that's just sort of a WWF wrestling part of politics. It doesn't mean anything, just fills up a lot of air time."
He also said in an interview with People magazine that Biden's remarks meant consumers would be worse off if Republicans succeeded in doing away with new restraints on financial institutions.
"In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that," Obama said.
Biden made the comments Tuesday in Danville, Va., while saying that Republicans want to deregulate financial institutions -- or, as Biden put it, to "unchain Wall Street."
Hundreds of black people were in the audience when Biden added, "They're going to put y'all back in chains."
In Iowa for a bus tour, Obama said the reaction to Biden's remarks was a function of politics, but he did not blame his vice president.
"The truth is that during the course of these campaigns, folks like to get obsessed with how something was phrased even if everybody personally understands that's not how it was meant," Obama told People. "That's sort of the nature of modern campaigns and modern coverage of campaigns. But I tell you, when I'm traveling around Iowa, that's not what's on people's minds."
A prominent Democrat, though, spoke out against Biden's comments Wednesday. The nation's first elected black governor, Doug Wilder of Virginia, claimed the comments brought race into the presidential contest.
Romney alluded to Biden's comment Tuesday evening in delivering a tough critique of the Obama campaign.
"His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency," Romney told a crowd of thousands at the final stop on his five-state bus tour. "Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower. This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like."
He continued: "So, Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago."
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt responded that Romney "seemed unhinged" during the campaign speech.
"Particularly strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.