Vice President Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden triggered outrage from Mitt Romney on Tuesday by saying the Republican would put people "in chains" if elected president as the U.S. presidential campaign took an ugly turn.
"Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America," Romney told a large crowd in the battleground state of Ohio.
The election campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Romney has been dominated by negative tactics on both sides, but still Biden's comment was jarring and one that Republicans felt brought up racial overtones.
The gaffe-prone Biden appeared to be talking about Romney's complaints about banking regulations that the Republican says are limiting credit for small businesses. Biden told a rally in Danville, Virginia, that if elected Romney would cut regulations on banks to the detriment of consumers, Reuters reported.
"They're going to put y'all back in chains," Biden told the crowd, a comment that for some people could evoke memories of slavery in America.
When Republicans responded with outrage, Biden tried to put the statement in context in Wytheville, Virginia, saying Republican lawmakers themselves have talked about attempts to pursue limited government to "unshackle our economy."
"The last time these guys unshackled the economy, to use their term, they put the middle class in shackles. That's how we got where we are," said Biden.
The Romney campaign, eager to portray the Obama team as willing to say anything to get elected, quickly inserted a reaction to Biden into Romney's remarks in Chillicothe, making clear he blamed Obama.
"His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency. Another outrageous charge just came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower," Romney said.
The candidates waged their verbal combat in key battleground states that will determine the outcome of the November 6 election. Obama has built a slender lead in the polls.
Obama spent the day campaigning in Iowa, a state he won in 2008 but which is now flirting with Romney. He talked up his desire to extend tax credits for wind energy manufacturers in Iowa and elsewhere. The tax credits expire at year's end.
In criticizing Romney for opposing the tax credits, Obama brought up an often-told tale about Romney, that he once put his dog in a container and strapped it to the roof of his car to go on a family vacation.
"During a speech a few months ago, Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way: ‘You can't drive a car with a windmill on it.' That's what he said about wind power. I wonder if he actually tried that," Obama said.