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February 23. 2012 7:49PM

Biden stumps for Obama in NH


As Sen. Jeanne Shaheen looks on, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester on Thursday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Three times in the last three months, Joe Biden has visited New Hampshire as a vice president, standing at a podium with the official seal of his office and speaking about matters of governance.

On Thursday, New Hampshire Democrats hosted Joe Biden unleashed. Standing beneath a campaign banner, he extolled the middle class, warned that Republicans are no longer hiding their true nature and said the economy is improving.

“What we did actually, actually is working; not enough, but a very, very significant march to total recovery,” Biden said. “We're beginning to restore hope.”

Biden spoke to about 250 people at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in downtown Manchester. The crowd included Democratic Party activists, campaign workers and art school students.

The speech focused on themes the Obama campaign will likely use once the general election campaign gets under way later this year.

If the Obama campaign were to create a bumper sticker, it would read: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive, Biden said.

He said the bailout of the American auto industry saved millions of jobs, including 20,000 in New Hampshire. The economy is in its 23rd straight month of job growth, creating 3.1 million new jobs, he said.

The stock market has rebounded from a Dow Jones Industrials low of 6,500, restoring the value of 401(k) retirement plans, Biden said. And Obama continued a middle class tax cut, delivered a mortgage refinancing program and implemented programs to allow manufacturers and community colleges to partner for job training purposes.

“We're about providing jobs people can raise a family on,” Biden said.

Republicans — often he referred to them as “these people” — aren't bad, Biden said; they just don't understand the challenges of the middle class.

He spoke about how a father feels who has no home equity to tap to pay for his child's college education. “I don't believe (Mitt) Romney understands that,” Biden said.

Republicans said Obama is losing ground with Democrats, independents and young voters. Ryan Mahoney, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement that Biden was in New Hampshire to “shake the money tree,” or raise campaign funds.

The Biden event was not a fundraiser, although he came to Manchester from a $10,000-per-person event in Cambridge, Mass.

“Barack Obama and Joe Biden will need all the money they can get to cover up their failure on jobs, the economy, and soaring gas prices,” Mahoney said.

Obama has a job approval rating of 51 percent in New Hampshire, his first climb above 50 percent in 1 1/2 years, according to the University of New Hampshire Survey Center's Granite State Poll.

People left the speech excited about hearing Biden.

“He's authentic; he's real,” said Peter Sullivan, a Manchester lawyer and Democrat who was elected to the New Hampshire House in a special election on Tuesday.

“I don't think anyone thinks it (the election) is going to be easy. He's got a strong sense of optimism.” And after economic recession, 9-11 and two wars, the country needs that, Sullivan said.

Biden didn't mention gas prices, which Sullivan blamed on supply and demand. “You can't talk about every issue at every stop,” he said.

Douglas Ley, a Jaffrey school teacher, said Republicans won't win with their message of no.

Biden's message “is a better message than ‘things are bad and not getting better.' The reality is we are in a recovery right now,” Ley said.


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