Highlights from latest Iowa campaign stops by Ryan and Biden

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan campaigned in Des Moines yesterday, while Vice President Joe Biden kicked off a two-day swing through Iowa in Burlington. I’ve enclosed highlights from both men’s speeches after the jump. I’ll update this post later with clips from Biden’s events today in Ottumwa and Grinnell.

According to Romney’s campaign staff in Iowa, about 600 people came to hear Ryan speak in Des Moines. Governor Terry Branstad introduced Ryan, and Representatives Steve King and Tom Latham both attended the event. Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson posted a link to the full audio here. He characterized the 2009 stimulus as a failure and claimed (wrongly) that Obama promised unemployment would never go above 8 percent if the stimulus passed. Many Republicans have echoed the same false claim about Obama’s promises on unemployment, incidentally.

Getting back to Ryan’s speech in Des Moines yesterday: he praised Iowans for being “frugal,” having the lowest average credit card debt in the U.S., and electing “governors who balance the budget.”

Midway through his speech Ryan made an appeal to Ron Paul Republicans who have deep reservations about the Federal Reserve system.

“The Federal Reserve is stepping in with yet another bail-out,” Ryan said and, as many in the crowd booed, one man yelled: “End The Fed!” Ryan continued: “All this money-printing, all this creation of money is sugar-high economics. What we want, what we deserve, what we need in this country is honest money.”

According to Ryan, “Wall Street” and the nation’s “big banks” are the main beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, but he said “the rest of us” aren’t helped by it. Ryan also told the crowd the country was in danger of economic calamity if President Obama is reelected.

Ryan described the need to cut the deficit as a moral issue, so that we don’t pass the debt along to our children. Similarly, Romney’s latest campaign commercial running in Iowa shows the candidate saying, “We have a moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in. We can’t keep buying and spending and passing on debts to our kids. And I’ll stop it.” If closing the budget gap is a moral imperative, I always wonder why Republicans won’t ask the wealthiest income groups to pay even a little more in taxes. Ryan sidestepped the issue of income tax rates for the top bracket, framing Obama’s plan as a strategy to raise taxes on small businesses.

After criticizing Obama’s record and assuring the audience that there is time to turn this economy around, Ryan praised Romney for “saving the Olympics” in Salt Lake City and hailed his record in private business:

I want to be really clear about this. Being successful in business–that’s a good thing in this country! That’s not a bad thing! There’s nothing to be ashamed about by being successful in business! We want successful people. We take pride in one another success, we don’t resent it.

Irony of the day: during his stump speech in Des Moines, Ryan mocked some comments Obama made at a private fundraiser in San Francisco during the 2008 campaign:

He said people like us, people from the Midwest, they like to cling to their guns and their religion. I gotta tell you, this Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged, and proud to say so. You know, that’s just weird. Who says things like that? That’s just strange.

The dominant campaign story of yesterday’s news cycle was the leaked video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney telling an audience at a closed fundraiser,

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

Romney went on: “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

You know, that’s just weird. Who says things like that? That’s just strange.

Romney doesn’t seem to understand that every American pays sales taxes, and many people also pay property taxes or withholding taxes. The 47 percent Romney alludes includes millions of working poor people, whose tax burden as a percentage of their total income is much higher than the typical wealthy person’s tax burden. As many others pointed out yesterday, it’s bizarre for Romney to disparage people who don’t pay income taxes, since he uses tax shelters and refuses to release his tax returns. Romney called an impromptu press conference last night to deal with the blowback. Mother Jones posted the transcript here.

Back to yesterday’s campaigning in Iowa. Bruce Scheitlin, who works at Champion Spark Plug and belongs to the United Automobile Workers Local 1237, introduced Vice President Biden at the event in Burlington. He said that the Burlington plant would have lost a third of its business if the Obama administration had let Chrysler fail in 2009. Speaking to the heavily union crowd,

Biden focused on health care for seniors, international trade and, of course, the federal support for the American automobile industry. He contrasted President Barack Obama’s positions on those issues with those of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. […]

Biden said it may seem like the easy choice now, but when the president made the decision, it was not clear the industry should be rescued. The line echoed comments he made at the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago.

Brian Crozier of KBUR in Burlington reported more highlights from Biden’s event.

Biden also accused Romney of hypocrisy on a key trade issue. Earlier today President Obama announced the U.S. was filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against China’s subsidies for its auto industry. Romney dismissed it as an “election year stunt” after 43 months of failed action against China. Biden shot back during his remarks in Burlington.

“I seldom ever quote the official Chinese government news agency,” Biden said, getting laughter from the crowd, many of whom are union members. “This – seriously – this was what the Chinese news agency said and I quote – ‘It’s rather ironic that a considerable portion of this China-battering politician’s wealth was actually obtained by doing business with Chinese companies before he entered politics.'”

Biden described Obama’s action on Monday as an effort to get “real, enforceable fair trade” with the Chinese.

“And a level playing field so we can export what the world wants – products that say: ‘Made in America,'” Biden said, as the crowd cheered. “That’s what the world wants – Made in America.”

The crowd started chanting “U-S-A!” in response.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: In Ottumwa on September 19, Biden stuck to his basic stump speech and did not mention Romney’s “47 percent” video, which continued to dominate political news coverage. Radio Iowa posted the audio and some highlights.

“Folks, we’ve seen this movie before,” Biden said. “Massive tax cuts for the wealthy, shed reasonable regulations on Wall Street and the big banks, let the insurance companies go back to making decisions about pre-existing conditions, life-time limits and the rest about your health insurance – we know how that movie ends…It ends in a catastrophe for the middle class.”

As he did the day before in Burlington, Biden touted the Obama Administration’s record on trade issues. According to Biden, the U.S. has filed more trade cases against China in the last four years than Republican George W. Bush’s administration did in its eight years.

“The fact is there’s nothing I can see that Romney has said or done or is proposing where he would stand up to unfair trade practices or eliminate incentives for American corporations to leave Iowa and go somewhere else,” Biden said.

In Grinnell later the same day, Biden added a few student-friendly themes to his stump speech.

He made several references not only to the Obama administration’s work on cutting student loan rates, boosting Pell grants and cutting private banks out of the federal student loan program, but also to “women’s health care,” “marriage equality” and an end to the war in Afghanistan.

“If nothing else were at stake, just imagine what the Supreme Court would like after four years of a Romney presidency, with two appointments,” Biden said. “It’s pretty profound, folks.”

Also prominent at the event was U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a three-term Democratic incumbent who’s district now includes Grinnell and Poweshiek County because of redistricting.

Braley spoke before Biden and sat on stage throughout his remarks, and Biden referred to him several times, complimenting him as “my pal Bruce Braley” who supported the administration’s efforts on education.

Braley’s home town of Brooklyn is in Poweshiek County, not far from Grinnell. Iowa Democrats need to get the vote out in the Grinnell area to have any chance of winning the open Iowa House district 76 or defeating Republican State Senator Tim Kapucian in the new Iowa Senate district 38.

Meanwhile, The Iowa Republican’s Craig Robinson couldn’t contain his frustration upon learning that Ann Romney will headline a campaign event in Des Moines later this week.

All told, more than half of visits to Iowa by Romney, his wife, and his running mate, will have been to the Des Moines area, while the rest of the state, including some of the most conservative areas, have barely seen the Republican nominees.

The Romney campaign’s emphasis on and around Des Moines is baffling. Make no mistake, Polk County and the surrounding area are important, but so too is western Iowa where many of the state’s conservatives call home. Another important area is eastern Iowa, which has long been the battleground in statewide elections.

It’s hard to figure out if the Romney campaign is lazy, dumb, or just scared. Des Moines is probably the easiest town for Romney to pull off an event on short notice. In addition to having some stalwart supporters there, there are plenty of Republican politicos who work in the city that can help and have flexible enough schedules to attend events at odd times of the day. Most of the Romney infrastructure in the state is also located in Des Moines.

Maybe the Romney campaign just isn’t smart enough to realize that they need to campaign all across the state. Des Moines media is always the best for covering the campaign when it comes to town, but it’s not like they refuse to travel. Des Moines is also an awful town to hold political events. Sure the media likes it when the campaign comes to them, but activists from outside of Des Moines are not going to navigate Iowa’s capitol city to go to a political event. […]

The other possibility is that the Romney campaign is scared to hold campaign events outside of Des Moines and Scott County. In fact, when you look at the communities that the Romney campaign has visited, they have only gone to counties in Iowa where they did very well on caucus night. Since Romney has struggled to generate large crowds in “safe” places like Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and the Quad Cities, they may be hesitant to hold events in areas of the state where Romney has not performed well. Ironically, Romney’s largest Iowa crowd to date was in Orange City, a place that is dominated by social conservatives. That is a place where Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum both dominated.

THIRD UPDATE: Via Carrie Dann, this chart shows the percentage of Americans in each state who “filed an income tax return but had no income tax liability after taking their credits and deductions.” In 2008, Iowa ranked 37th, with about 31 percent of taxpayers having no federal income tax liability. In 2010, Iowa ranked 38th, with just under 30 percent of tax filers having no federal income tax liability.

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