Biden makes historic stop in SuperiorVice President Joe Biden — or Jill Biden’s husband — as he introduced himself to about 1,100 Superiorites greeted him with enthusiasm Friday afternoon.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Vice President Joe Biden — or Jill Biden’s husband — as he introduced himself to about 1,100 Superiorites greeted him with enthusiasm Friday afternoon.
For the first time in history, a vice president — the second in command of the nation — made the journey to the smallest city at the headwaters of Lake Superior to rally support in Tuesday’s presidential election.
No one of that caliber made that journey in 64 years, when President Harry S. Truman arrived by train at the depot on Ogden Avenue.
Even the half of the Republican presidential ticket in 2012, a Wisconsin native, U.S. Rep and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, didn’t make the 367-mile trip from his home in Janesville to rally support in the Northland.
After a campaign stop in Beloit — 13 miles from Ryan’s home — the vice president flew north to challenge the ticket made up of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, founder of Bain Capital, and Ryan.
Hilary Peterson, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Superior made the introduction.
“Are you ready for Joe?” Peterson asked the crowd.
The crowd erupted in cheers in Superior Middle School.
“Even if this is the first presidential election you vote in, it will be the most important one in your lifetime,” Peterson said. “… Just look how far we’ve come already and we want to move forward, not back.”
With wheels down on Air Force 2 in Duluth at 3:31 p.m., the vice president emerged from a curtain about an hour later after a brief tour that took him past about 100 cheering children at Great Lakes Elementary.
“I’m delighted to be here,” Biden said.
Biden touched on Hurricane Sandy, which threatened to cancel the campaign rally early in the week. He said the bipartisanship taking place as he and President Barack Obama work with governors and mayors — and those governors and mayors work together — in the affected areas has been heartening.
“My mom used to have an expression,” Biden said. “She used to say ‘Joey, for everything bad, something good will come if you look hard enough.’
“It really reinforced my faith since this hurricane hit to watch the way in which Democrats and Republicans are working together … It’s like it’s supposed to work. It’s like when I got started. And when this election is over, we’ve got to get back to that.”
However, that didn’t stop the Democrat from criticizing the Republican candidates for the presidency and vice presidency on policies to reshape the nation’s economy.
Biden was critical of Romney’s record on jobs, call him a “pioneer” of outsourcing at Bain Capital, where jobs were shipped overseas.
“This is a man who has a fortune invested in China,” Biden said. “The same man who has a tax policy that has a territorial tax. It’s the Bain way — you go find a country with the lowest tax rate and the cheapest wages, and you build it there. You pay those taxes and you never have to pay a penny in taxes when you bring it home. Why would anyone build a factory here. That new territorial tax would create 800,000 new jobs, all of them abroad. I’m not making that up.
“I found it fascinating at their convention that Gov. Romney said ‘The first thing I’m going to do if I’m elected president is I will take a jobs tour.’ It’s going to have to be a foreign trip.”
The crowd erupted in laughter.
Biden called today’s Republican Party “a different breed of cat” — not your father’s or Romney’s father, George Romney’s Republican Party. George Romney served as Michigan’s governor in the mid- to late-1960s, and ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1968, later serving as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during President Richard Nixon’s first term in office.
The second in command was critical of the Republican budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives —blocked by the U.S. Senate — for turning Medicare into a “coupon” program, eviscerating education and eliminating education grants that make higher education affordable for the middle class.
They have to make these cuts to pay for tax cuts or increase the deficit another $5 trillion, Biden said.
“Ladies and gentleman, we have seen this movie before,” the vice president said. “We know how it ends. It ended in the great recession of 2008. We did a rally with Bill Clinton in Ohio, and as he said, ‘this is Bush on steroids.’”
The vice president also touched on issues people at the rally cited as important — jobs, health care, education, women’s rights.
“We’ve made real progress — 4.5 million new jobs in the last four years,” Biden said. “We created more jobs in October than at any time in the last eight months.”
Manufacturing jobs, housing starts and exports are on the rise, and 3 million students are attending college because of Pell grants, the vice president said.
And Biden cautioned the crowd to consider the two most important decisions a president will make but not discussed in the campaign — when to go to war and who to appoint to the Supreme Court, Biden said.
With one to three Supreme Court appointments possible during the next presidential term, Biden asked, what do you think will happen to the progress women made in the last 40 years under a court appointed by Mitt Romney
“There’s a lot at stake in this election,” Biden said. “There really is a lot at stake in this election. Ladies and gentleman, I want to make one thing absolutely clear. Barack and I from the beginning, and this is in our gut … my daughter, and his daughters, and my four granddaughters are entitled to every single opportunity my sons are and every single opportunity my grandsons are. That is non-negotiable. That is not negotiable.”
The crowd erupted in cheers that drown out his voice.
“This is the clearest choice any presidential race presented in my lifetime,” Biden said.
“I’m inspired,” said Judy Little of Superior, a Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College student. “I’m inspired to go tell everybody that I know that I got to see him in person today and hear their opinion what they’re going to do on Tuesday.”
The speech left Isabel Dokhanchi, 14, wishing she could vote Tuesday.
“He made it joyful while explaining how he could help our nation,” she said.
Her mother, Cindy Christian, was impressed with seeing Biden in person.
“He’s everyman,” said Christian, who teaches political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth. “He’s just so down to earth and explains things in ways that everybody can understand … he’s just very human.”
Staff writer Maria Lockwood contributed to this report.