Biden combats GOP claims in exclusive KWWL interview - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Biden combats GOP claims in exclusive KWWL interview

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Biden gave an exclusive local TV interview to KWWL Biden gave an exclusive local TV interview to KWWL
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

After speaking to a packed house of more than 400 people at Waterloo's UAW Local 838 Hall Tuesday morning, United States Vice President Joe Biden spoke with KWWL in an exclusive local TV interview.

More than an hour after wrapping up his speech at the union hall, Biden returned to the event's main room, which was conspicuously cavern-like without the hundreds-strong throng.

He apologized for his soft voice, owing it to a cold, and the interview began.

In Iowa, one of about a half dozen true battleground states in the presidential election, Democratic and Republican parties and PACs alike have spent millions of dollars on TV ads. In them, the GOP claims, among other arguments, the median household income in the US has dropped $4,300 since President Obama took office. The GOP says the net worth of the average American household is at a 20-year low. Plus, they cite a continued scourge of unemployment and underemployment.

"That erosion started and gained incredible speed during the Bush administration, and household income for middle-income people was decimated," Biden said. "Romney's answer is repeat the policies that decimated it. Unleash Wall Street again, quote unquote, more tax breaks for the millionaires. He's talking about another $2 trillion in tax breaks for people who make a million dollars or more."

Biden faulted Romney for talking about outsourcing jobs.

"This is the thing that caused the collapse of the middle class, and we inherited a situation where we were hemorrhaging jobs," Biden said. "Now middle class income is starting to come back, slowly... but the answers we're offering compared to what they're offering are just starkly different. He wants to double down on the same thing that caused this decline."

In Waterloo's Lincoln Park Tuesday morning, across the street from President Obama's Waterloo headquarters, supporters of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney gathered to counter Biden's speech, which was just hours away at the time.

Romney's Iowa communications director refuted Democratic criticism of Romney's outsourcing jobs.

"Governor Romney led the state of Massachusetts to drop to 4.7 percent unemployment," communications director Shawn McCoy said. "He worked in the private sector for over 25 years and he understands how jobs are created."

Economists, including Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, have been warning politicians about a so-called fiscal cliff, over which the nation risks tumbling, they say, if tax cuts set to expire at the end of 2012 go un-renewed. The LA Times reports the US economy could see as much as a $720 billion hit if these changes take effect.

"If the Republican Congress doesn't act on dealing with the budget reduction agreements we meant to, if they don't allow the middle class tax cuts to continue, then there's going to be over $600 billion in one year that is not going into the economy from the federal government," Biden said. "We think the federal government has to be engaged, has to continue to give tax breaks, focus on the middle class -- not the wealthy."

McCoy said Romney does not favor such government intervention.

"President Obama is calling for the largest tax increase in history so that he can continue growing the government instead of the private economy," McCoy said. "Gov. Romney is calling for across the board tax relief so that middle class families and small businesses can keep more of what they earned and grow the private economy."

With a grid locked Congress, practically going about renewing these tax breaks that are set to expire will be a challenge for Democrats.

Biden's answer suggested calling out the Republicans but offered no more practical solutions.

"We're just going to stand fast and say, 'You guys, you're going to go ahead and insist that another $800 billion in tax cuts go to the very wealthiest people and you're going to hold hostage the entire middle class tax cut? Go ahead. Step up. Do it. Let me see you do it,'" he said.

A new book, "Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan", reveals details of a leaked memo in which Vice President Biden voiced concern in 2009 over the surge in Afghanistan. As President Obama considered adding as many as 40,000 US forces in Afghanistan, Biden insisted on half that number, citing a months-long White House review of the war and questioning whether the same "counterinsurgency'' strategy that had apparently worked in Iraq could be applied to Afghanistan.

The information about this leak suggests a rift between the president and his second-in-command in 2009 regarding the war.

Now, Biden said, "We're on the exact same page. What the president has done, he has signed an agreement with 50 other countries, including our NATO countries, ending the war and laying out how we're going to end this war and turn over responsibility to the Afghans, and Mitt Romney says that's a mistake."

Biden said Romney wants to stay overseas as long as it takes.

"We and all of our allies agree, this is time to turn responsibility over to, by the year 2014, to the Afghans," Biden said. "The president has laid out how to responsibly end this war, as he ended the war in Iraq. And Romney says we should still have combat troops in Iraq."

"The president and I have no disagreement," Biden added. "Romney, and the president and I, we have a gigantic disagreement."

Following the interview with KWWL, Biden hit US Highway 20 eastbound for Dubuque, but not before making a stop for lunch at First Street Deli in Independence, where co-owner Julie Camenisch was ecstatic.

"I said, 'Oh, that's nice that he's coming to town.' And they said, 'No, he's coming to the deli,'" Camenisch said, visibly giddy.

She said she and "mom and pop" counterpart, her husband Jim, had only one day to prepare for Biden's visit.

"Unreal. Such a short amount of notice, but we've tried to make everything good and ready for him," Camenisch said, "and it was so cool when the Secret Service went through and did all their thing, but, yeah, it's pretty cool."

Biden spoke with lunchtime customers and won the heart of five-year-old Alex Thompson from Independence. All it took was a cookie.

"I thinked he was nice," Alex said afterward with a shy shrug and twinkly-eyed smile in the deli parking lot.

After greeting folks along Independence's First Street, Biden made another stop en route to Dubuque. He visited Widner Drug Store in Manchester, where the 69-year-old politician stopped for ice cream and chatted about grandchildren with the considerably older crowd present.

Strawberry was his flavor of choice.

Finally, Biden made one more stop-- at the Hy-Vee on Highway 20 in Dubuque.

Customers were surprised. It's not every day the vice president of the United States shows up at their local grocery store.

Biden's staffers said he planned to spend Tuesday evening visiting friends in Dubuque.

He has two more events planned on this campaign swing through eastern Iowa. He'll speak at Dubuque's Grand River Center Wednesday and later in the day in Clinton.

Watch KWWL's full, exclusive interview with Biden HERE.

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