Biden Kicks Off Re-election Campaign Touting Auto Rescue

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  March 15, 2012 at 9:25 AM EST

Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and Joe Biden; Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron laugh as Vice President Joe Biden gives a toast at the State Department on Wednesday. Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Updated 2:30 p.m. ET:

Vice President Biden hit the 2012 campaign trail in earnest Thursday, defending the administration’s rescue of U.S. auto companies while criticizing Mitt Romney and the other GOP presidential candidates for their opposition to the steps taken by the administration.

“Gov. Romney’s predictions of a living dead? We have now living proof: a million jobs saved, 200,000 new jobs created,” Biden told the crowd at a United Auto Workers hall in Toledo, Ohio.

Biden touted the president’s willingness to take tough, even unpopular decisions for the benefit of the country. “The president didn’t flinch. This is a man with steel in his spine.” Biden said.

The vice president also played up the issue of fairness, a theme the president has struck upon in recent speeches in Osawatomie, Kan., last December and in his State of the Union address earlier this year.

“If you give any one of these guys the keys to the White House, they will bankrupt the middle class,” Biden said. “Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have a fundamentally different vision,” he added.

Biden has been attending fundraisers across the country, but Thursday’s remarks mark a shift to a more public effort to support the Obama team’s re-election push toward Nov. 6.

MATH ATTACK

Mitt Romney’s campaign attempted to rain on Rick Santorum’s post-Alabama and Mississippi victory parade Wednesday by advancing the argument that its candidate has an insurmountable delegate advantage, but the former Pennsylvania senator wasn’t having any of it.

In a memo released Wednesday morning, Romney political director Rich Beeson said that to win, “Santorum and Gingrich need to start netting an impossible number of delegates to overtake Governor Romney.”

And while Romney had no public campaign events Wednesday, he touted his mathematical edge in an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News.

“I got more delegates than anyone else. This is a process of becoming the nominee and we’re pursuing that it in an intelligent way,” Romney said.

The former Massachusetts governor also touted his support among conservatives in some of the previous contests but acknowledged he still had work to do. “Some who are very conservative may not be yet in my camp, but they will be when I become the nominee,” he said.

For his part, Santorum ribbed Romney’s math argument following a town hall event in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which holds its primary on Sunday.

“It’s pretty sad when all you have is to do math instead of trying to go out there and win it on substance and win it on what Americans want to hear about,” Santorum told CNN.

“We’re a long, long way from over. You know what? I suspect if we keep winning state after state after state he ain’t gonna be the nominee,” Santorum added.

Judy Woodruff, Dante Chinni of Patchwork Nation and Christina discussed the calendar ahead and mathematical probabilities on Wednesday’s NewsHour.

Watch the segment here or below.

WHIP IT GOOD

As Christina noted on the NewsHour, Gingrich allies are thinking about this in terms of two words: brokered convention.

Rick Tyler of the pro-Gingrich Winning our Future super PAC told the Morning Line that the goal for everyone on board is to arrive in Tampa, Fla., with the most leverage, since it’s likely Romney would not have the 1,144 delegates needed to capture the nod. When it comes time to the second ballot at the convention, Tyler thinks Gingrich and Santorum could split the vote and that Gingrich would prevail.

It will take a sophisticated lobbying push to get to that point. “It’s like running a whip’s race for the speakership or majority leader,” said Tyler, who was a longtime aide to Gingrich before leaving the campaign last year. Gingrich allies will work to convince the party activists who serve as convention delegates that if they aren’t bound to a candidate by state party rules, they should go with the former House speaker.

“These delegates are not casual observers,” Tyler said, adding that Gingrich backers are convinced that delegates will eventually realize the former speaker is the only candidate who will “fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.”

The super PAC is holding a meeting Thursday to decide where next to invest resources. There’s currently only a national radio buy.

The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner and Karen Tumulty write that prominent Santorum-backing conservatives, including Richard Viguerie, are urging Republicans to call Gingrich and ask him to step aside. There’s even pressure on Gingrich endorser and former candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

CHAT WITH GWEN

Gwen Ifill (@pbsgwen) will take your questions Thursday at 1 p.m. over at Washington Week. Don’t miss the live chat.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Time’s Alex Altman on the negotiations “slowly taking shape” between the camps of Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Romney.

  • Stuart Rothenberg (@stupolitics) argues that Romney isn’t hurt for a general election at all since he is winning with moderates who make the difference in battleground states.

  • Don’t miss David Chalian, Amy Walter and Rick Klein talking about political language.

  • In his Fox News interview Wednesday, Romney also defended his private sector success and pushed back on questions about whether some comments have made him appear out of touch with regular voters. “I made a lot of money. I’ve been very successful. I’m not going to apologize for that,” Romney said.

  • The Washington Post’s Phillip Rucker tackles Seamus and the family vacation story that just won’t stop dogging Romney.

  • Gwen talked with Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, and Hans Von Spakovsky, manager of the Civil Justice Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, about recent moves to block strict voter photo-ID laws in Wisconsin and Texas. Watch the segment here.

  • Talking Points Memo’s Benjy Sarlin on the “fourth guy” who is still in the presidential race, Rep. Paul.

  • On Wednesday, Judy talked with actor George Clooney about his work in Sudan. At the close of the interview, she asked him about the President Obama’s re-election campaign. Clooney said he remains an “enthusiastic supporter” and that the campaign will be tougher this year because Mr. Obama has had to govern in a polarized environment. “Things are looking up,” Clooney said. Watch.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • NewsHour Capitol Hill coordinating producer Linda Scott writes that the Senate approved the transportation bill, which now heads to the House.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reached an agreement on moving forward with votes on more than a dozen of President Obama’s judicial nominees.

  • Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad writes that it could be the most important day for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s re-election bid as Utah Republicans select delegates to attend the April nominating convention.

  • Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz writes from the road in Illinois about Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s tough Democratic primary against former Rep. Debbie Halvorson.

  • “Freshman Republican Rep. Rick Crawford will propose a surtax on millionaires Thursday morning, a crack in the steadfast GOP opposition to extracting more money from the nation’s top earners,” Politico’s Jake Sherman writes.

  • The Virginia Democratic Party is up Thursday morning with a web video hitting Gov. Bob McDonnell over the ultrasound controversy.

  • Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich spent part of his last day before beginning a 14-year prison sentence holding a news conference with reporters outside his Chicago home.

  • With Thursday the official start of March Madness, the NewsHour looked at a bracket of a different kind: the graduation rates of the colleges and universities in the NCAA tournament.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama delivers remarks on energy in Largo, Md., at 10:55 a.m.

  • Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the United Auto Workers Local 12 in Toledo, Ohio, at 11 a.m.

  • Rick Santorum holds a campaign event in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 8:30 a.m.

  • Newt Gingrich campaigns in Illinois, with stops in Barrington at 10 a.m., Elgin at 11:30 a.m., Carpentersville at 2 p.m. and Lake in the Hills at 3:30 p.m.

  • Ron Paul holds a town hall in Columbia, Mo., at 1 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney has no public campaign events scheduled.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers and @suddinengel.