(ARNOLD, MO.) - Traveling in the St. Louis metropolitan area today, Joe Biden spoke about concerns over jobs and the economy to a crowd filled with United Auto Workers, many of whom just this week lost their jobs when a Chrysler plant in nearby Fenton closed its doors.
Biden then spoke intimately about his own experience as he watched General Motors down an auto plant in Delaware years ago.
"When a job is lost, or a house is foreclosed on, it is much more than an economic loss -- it's devastating emotionally. I watched them close down my plant," recounted Biden.
"I stood there, years ago. We got it reopened a year later, but we were told it was done. And I stood there at the GM plant as they closed it. And I stood there on those lines when I needed their vote at every shift. So when they were closing the plant I decided to stand there and be there when they came out and they were angry. They were angry, walking through that turnstile," said Biden, lowering his voice.
"My staff said, 'Are you crazy? Why are you going to put yourself in the front of that line when these people have just been told their jobs are gone?' I said it was because I was there when they were doing well and asking for the help. And part of government's responsibility is to be there when things aren't going well. And people would walk by and do a number of expletive deletives [sic] deleted to me. You know…" said Biden, adding gibberish in place of curse words.
"But I promise you, 85 percent would get halfway across the parking lot, and they'd walk back to me. And they'd say, Joe thanks for being here."
Biden also condemned tax breaks proposed by the McCain campaign for Exxon-Mobil to drill for oil offshore, even more so today after the oil company reported a record third-quarter profit.
"Now look, they're not bad guys. I'm not making this populist argument. But lets take a look at it folks. Here the entire economy of America is shrinking, and the oil companies are, this one in fact, made the largest profit in its history in a quarter. Ladies and gentlemen, what more evidence do we need that the Exxon Mobils of the world don't need a tax break? That $4 billion should go to middle class taxpayers, people who need the money."
"John and Gov. Palin have this upside down. They literally have it upside down."
Careful not to offend voters who voted Republican in the last election, Biden said what they hoped President Bush would do for the economy just didn't have the outcome they expected.
"People thought we'd try the way that Bush was arguing. This trickle down theory of economics, that if you did it, the economy would grow. If you allowed great risks to be taken by the folks…you know, on Wall Street, this would work out. But George Bush in not a bad guy. George Bush is a patriotic American. He thought it would work, but the fact of [the] matter is people, many of whom are Republicans who voted for George W. Bush, now know it didn't work."
One of those auto workers was Jerel Eames, 41, who has a daughter in college. Ames made around $50,000 a year putting the right front doors modules on Dodge minivans before he and his wife lost their jobs.
He said the rising cost of health care companies must pay and NAFTA agreements is sending jobs up to Canada where government takes on health care costs, and hoped Obama's health care plan would help.
But more than anything Biden said about Ames' job loss, he said what was more important to him was another Biden message.
"More than anything, he's right when he says we need to unite this country. Once this election is over, the division needs to go away."