Watch CBSN Live

Joe Biden dispatched to Ohio to make middle class campaign pitch


Updated at 12:22 p.m. ET

As President Obama's re-election campaign begins to reach out to voters, Vice President Joe Biden will take up the special task of winning over the middle class. In the first in a series of speech he plans to give on the economy in the coming weeks, Biden delivered remarks today tailored to auto industry workers in the swing state of Ohio.

At the United Auto Workers Local 12 Hall in Toledo, Ohio, the vice president argued that Mr. Obama made a tough choice, but the right one, when he backed the government bailout of the auto industry.

"He knew rescuing the industry wasn't popular. He knew he was taking a chance. But he believed," Biden said. "He said, we are not going to give up on a million jobs, and the iconic industry America invented. Not without a fight."

The auto industry is a central part of Ohio's economy, and the bailout -- which all of the Republican presidential candidates opposed -- gives the Obama campaign a clear illustration of the differences between the two sides. The Obama campaign is seeking to cast the 2012 election as a stark choice between a governing philosophy that favors the middle class versus one that favors the rich.

"Simply stated, we're about promoting the private sector," Biden said. "They're about protecting the privileged sector. We are for a fair shot and a fair shake; they're about no rules, no risks and no accountability."

Specifically calling out Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Biden said, "If you give any one of these guys the keys to the White House, they will bankrupt the middle class again."

The vice president went through the GOP arguments for opposing the bailout, including the argument that the private sector could have loaned General Motors and Chrysler money.

"Any honest expert wll tell you in 2009 no one was lining up to lend GM money, or for that matter, to lend money to anybody -- that includes Bain Capital," Biden said, taking a jab at Romney, the former head of Bain Capital.

Biden refuted the claim that Ford would have filled the holes left in the industry by GM or Chrysler's demise, citing remarks from Ford's CEO. He also dismissed the notion that the bailout was a "payoff to special interests" -- a quote he attributed to Santorum.

"Gingrich, Romney and Santorum -- they don't let the facts get in their way," he said, hailing the sacrifices UAW workers made, such as accepting wage freezes.

Biden tapped into his relatively modest background as he stood before the Toledo auto workers. He recalled that when his father managed a car dealership, he would borrow cars to take girlfriends to the prom. "It's good to have a dad in the automobile business, man," he said.

He also said his father taught him the true value of a job -- noting that the auto industry has gained 200,000 jobs since the industry rescue plan was enacted, after losing 400,000 before Mr. Obama took office.

"That's 200,0000 people who had their dignity returned to them... and a paycheck you can raise your family on," he said.

The vice president's speeches are one in a series of steps the campaign is rolling out to reach out to voters. Additionally, the campaign today is releasing a 17-minute documentary-style film called the "Road We've Traveled," which explores the challenges Mr. Obama faced when he took office and the progress made since then. The film was directed by award-winning director Davis Guggenheim and is narrated by Tom Hanks.

Complete coverage: Campaign 2012