(YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio) – While Hurricane Sandy punished the East Coast, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton stayed on the campaign trail Monday, speaking at the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio Monday afternoon. President Obama canceled his campaign appearances for Monday and Tuesday to monitor the hurricane from Washington.
“Folks, I know you were expecting the real president, the present president. Reverend, I just want you to know he asked me to express his regrets for not being able to be here, but you know, he’s doing the job a president should be doing,” Biden told the crowd of 4,800 at the Covelli Center.
“I want to thank all the first responders throughout this country,” he said. “They’re coming from all over. There’s folks from Ohio heading east. There’s a whole lot of folks all over the country. And it’s further evidence, further evidence that when America stands together we’re all better off.”
The campaign later announced that Biden’s two events in Ohio Tuesday and a rally in his hometown of Scranton, Pa. were canceled, bringing the number of events canceled for Hurricane Sandy to 30.
Clinton, in Ohio, apologized on Obama’s behalf.
“We went to Florida last night, and he got up this morning and called me and said, ‘I got to go back right now. This storm’s getting out of hand. I got to handle it.’ And I said, ‘Mr. President, that is the right call,’” Clinton said. “I spoke in Orlando and then I got on a plane and flew through the edges of that storm to come here and be with Vice President Biden, who came to join us.”
Biden and Clinton, campaigning together for the first time this election cycle, did not let up on their attacks on the GOP ticket, furthering the criticism of Mitt Romney for a misleading campaign ad suggesting President Obama allowed Jeep operations to move to China. President Clinton called Romney’s ad, “the biggest load of bull.”
“I saw the reports of Governor Romney’s latest ad saying that the president had allowed Jeep to move to China. And so this morning, before he left Florida and went back to Washington, he said, ‘You know, of all the things Governor Romney has said, that probably hurts my feelings the most,” Clinton said. “He said, you know, ‘I never had any money when I was a kid and the first new car I ever owned, I was 30 years old, and it was a Jeep. I would never move Jeep to China.'”
“Now it turns out, Jeep is reopening in China because they’ve made so much money here, they can afford to do it and they are going on with their plans here. They put out a statement today saying it was the biggest load of bull in the world that they would ever consider shutting down their American operations. They are roaring in America, thanks to people like the people of Ohio.”
“This guy is — pirouettes more than a ballerina,” Biden said. “It’s an absolutely, patently false assertion.”
However, a BloombergBusinessweek.com story published Monday floated the idea Jeep production may very well be moving to Italy. After the auto bailout, the Treasury Department sold its share of Chrysler to Fiat at a loss, and now as an attempt to boost Fiat’s bottom line, the company reportedly discussed interest in a possible plan to build Jeeps in Italy for export to the U.S.
Biden undeterred, denied Jeep was going anywhere. “Ladies and gentlemen, have they no shame? I mean, what? Romney will say anything, absolutely anything to win, it seems. But he can’t run from the truth. He said in that article entitled, that he wrote, ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” — repeating an already-debunked but oft-repeated claim. The New York Times chose that headline. Still, Biden soldiered on, “Only the head of Bain Capital could think that liquidating an industry is the same thing as saving it. Because that’s what he did at Bain Capital,” Biden said. “Well look, we didn’t take Gov. Romney’s advice.”
Ryan Williams, spokesman for the Romney campaign, said in a statement, “It appears the Obama campaign is less concerned with engaging in a meaningful conversation about President Obama’s failed policies and more concerned with arguing against facts about their record they dislike. The American people will see their desperate arguments for what they are.”
Clinton has served as one of the Obama campaign’s top surrogates in the campaign, but the former president joked with the crowd about his frequent appearances on the trail, saying it’s only because his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is barred from campaigning.
“You’re only stuck with me because Hillary has one of the two jobs in the government that doesn’t permit you to campaign,” Clinton said. “But when you reach a certain point in your life you realize elections come and go but the only thing that really matters when all is said and done is whether people are better off from when you started, whether our children have a brighter future, and whether things are coming together instead of being torn apart.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Idaho State Journal staff
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Scott Stuntz, Teton Valley News
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com