Biden to firefighters: Romney doesn't get you

"Jill and I were shocked to learn of the tragedy in Aurora, Colo., this morning," Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday."The reason this is so deeply felt by all Americans is that, but for the grace of God, the victims could have been any one of our children, in any one of our towns. It is every parent's worst nightmare to receive 'that phone call' and to sit by their child's bedside, praying. We know what it's like to wait and wonder and the helplessness a parent feels at this moment. Our hearts go out to each and every person who is suffering right now as a result of this terrible event. The prayers of an entire nation are with the victims and their families. We stand with the city of Aurora and the state of Colorado in mourning." Mark Wilson/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA - Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday gave an audience of firefighters his view of GOP rival Mitt Romney: "I don't think he gets you."

Biden offered the assessment in the context of the White House's support of allowing the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans while pushing the "Buffett rule" calling for those in that income bracket to pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes.

"Wealthy people are just as patriotic as poor folks. They're just as decent as any middle-class folk I know. The difference here is, no one asked them to do anything," Biden told the 3,200 workers gathered for International Association of Fire Fighters convention. "This is about shared responsibility."

In the next breath, Biden added that Republicans push for "top-down" policies because "they have to make room for more benefits and more opportunities for the very wealthy."

(Biden jokes in remarks that he had to ask his wife to marry him five times.)

Biden characterized Romney as "a good family man, a guy who means well," echoing the approach that the former Massachusetts governor often takes before describing President Obama as clueless on the economy.

"Part of the problem is," Biden said. "I don't think he just gets you, I don't think he really understands. I mean this sincerely--I don't think he understands what you're all about, what makes you tick, what makes you decide to go into this profession that you couldn't pay enough to 90 percent of the population, including me, to do what you do every day."

Biden thanked the firefighters for their service, especially in the wake of last week's deadly theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. "The American public is reminded once in a while nationally just what you do," Biden said.

The former Delaware senator also got personal when talking about what first responders mean to him and the country. He cited a 1972 car accident in which his wife and infant daughter were killed and his two sons were critically injured.

"Who shows up, like you did for my family, with the jaws of life?" Biden asked.

  • Naureen Khan On Twitter»

    Naureen Khan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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