Biden says Romney will cut Medicare, higher education

Daniel Moore

Vice President Joe Biden promised to keep jobs and funding for education in Ohio and criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s economic policies during a campaign rally Saturday in Zanesville.

Biden, who was joined by former Ohio governor Ted Strickland in stumping for President Obama’s re-election, said never has there been such a stark contrast between candidates in recent memory, particularly when it comes to job creation.

“They have two totally different visions,” Biden said. “The President of the United States, Barack Obama, knows that creating jobs here in America, keeping jobs here in America and bringing jobs back to America is the president’s job. It’s the job.”

During his 30-minute speech delivered to a crowd of several hundred supporters in the gymnasium of Zane Grey Elementary School, he explained how Obama would continue to help middle class families whereas Romney would eliminate important government benefits and services.

“We’ve seen this movie before, and look how it ended for the middle class: a catastrophe,” Biden said. “Ladies and gentlemen, the president knows the way to create jobs. From the middle out, not from the top down.”

Biden said higher education is on the chopping block under Romney’s plan. The former governor would eliminate the $2500 tax cut that helps working class families send their kids to college, Biden said, and Pell grants would be cut an average of $1,000 for 9 million students.

“God only knows how many are going to have to drop out of college,” he said. “Why are they doing all this? They have to. They need you to pay for the massive tax cuts they want to keep for the very wealthy.”

President Obama, he said, will expand S.T.E.M. education with 100,000 new math and science teachers and ensure middle class families can get Pell grants and Stafford loans.

Martha Mitchell, a 62-year-old kindergarten and first grade special education teacher at Zane Grey, said she believes the Romney budget would make her understaffed department even more strained.

Standing outside in the rain nearly three hours before Biden’s arrival, Mitchell said the need to get money for education is her number one issue this election.

“Romney has already said that we don’t need this many teachers,” Mitchell said. “He’s already tried to mess with the retirement system. So he’s discouraging people to go into the profession. If no one is getting trained to come in, who’s going to teach these kids?”

Biden’s visit to Zanesville was the first of several stops in a two-day campaign swing through southeast Ohio. The vice president also stopped in Athens and Portsmouth over the weekend.

Recent polls from Real Clear Politics show a statistical tie between Obama and Romney in Ohio. In the moments leading up to Biden’s introduction, the crowd chanted, “Four more years!” and “We want Joe!”

James Kirby, 77, of Zanesville said he paid into Social Security during his 43-year career as a foundry worker and is now living off it.

“Why would I vote for somebody who’s gonna cut it out?” Kirby said. “That’s stupid.”

While waiting for the vice president’s motorcade to leave the school, Wendy Cochran, a fifth-grade history and science teacher from Cambridge, said the speech was relatable to the average person.

“I think (Biden) is down to earth,” Cochran said. “I think he understands what real people want.”

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected].