Whether it was by barraging his opponents with an array of new campaign lines or fueling the rumor mills with talk of a 2016 run, Vice President Joe Biden hit the campaign trail Wednesday with the exuberance of a candidate ready to steal as much spotlight as he could from the Republican ticket.
"Folks, I'm gonna…give you the whole load today," Biden declared as he took the stage in Sarasota for his first event of the day. "Because I tell you what, I am frustrated. I am frustrated with these guys."
While President Obama accompanied Governor Chris Christie in surveying areas of New Jersey ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and his candidacy benefitting from the optics of bipartisanship, the vice president became the tip of the spear in executing the sharp-edged, comedy-laced, high-decibel task of political messaging just six days out from Election Day.
In Florida, Biden spent a lengthy amount of time rejecting Romney's Ohio ad campaign, which suggests the federal auto bailout has shifted U.S. jobs overseas, a claim that he and former Pres. Clinton took to task on Monday in Youngstown. But what began as an effort to cede no ground to Republicans regarding the auto industry recovery has now transformed into a key element of the Obama-Biden campaign's closing argument, which draws voter attention away from the overall state of the economy to a question of character.
"Why would [the Romney-Ryan ticket] do this? Why would they do this in the face of the overwhelming facts contradicting them?" Biden asked, citing GM and Chrysler's protests over the ads. "I’ll tell you why I think they’re doing it. They’re trying to scare the living devil out of a group of people who have been hurt so badly over the last previous four years before we came to office." Biden used the ad as fodder to portray Romney as untrustworthy.
"Folks the president’s job is not to sow confusion," he continued. "It’s to plant the seeds of confidence… And my guy, your guy, Barack Obama, has character."
Biden, who likes to punctuate his fiercest attacks with comedic lines, again dished out zingers with a signature level of exaggeration: "Ladies and gentlemen, we've seen that movie before, and we know how it ends. And on Halloween, it's a horror movie how it ends!"
Given license to be the newsiest version of himself, the vice president was a man in his element, stopping by eateries after each rally, ready to shake hands and meet with patrons. At a Sarasota restaurant called Station 400, he encouraged a female supporter to call her Republican brother on her cell phone so they could chat.
"Look, I'm not trying to talk you into voting for me, I just wanted to say hi to you," Biden said, after a brief conversation with the man about the impact of Obama's healthcare law, well-aware of cameras recording his every word. "And after it's all over when your insurance rates go down, then you'll vote for me in 2016," he joked.
He wrapped up the call with a grin on his face, "I'll talk to you later, how about that?"