With a 30 minute address to a South Fort Myers gymnasium filled with passionate supporters, Vice President Joe Biden brought the presidential campaign to Southwest Florida on Saturday, September 29.
The visit concluded a pair of days in the Sunshine State, for which President Obama is competing vigorously to retain its all-important 29 electoral votes in the November election. Biden spent the prior afternoon near Fort Lauderdale, before his plane touched down at Southwest Florida International Airport on Friday evening.
Commencing his speech with fond memories of past visits to his brother’s home in the region, the 69 year-old politician quickly got down to business. In front of an estimated crowd of 2,000 at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Park Recreational Center, Biden contrasted his beliefs with the positions Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for Vice President.
On the hot-button issue of Medicare that consumed the early part of his address, Biden employed a familiar folksy style, “In the neighborhood where I come from, I don’t know anyone who can afford an extra $6400 bucks for Medicare.”
The Teleprompter-aided speech centered on an economic message, which met widespread approval from a friendly audience, who largely arrived early to fill the majority of the room. With a multitude of local cameras recording, Biden rejected GOP calls for Medicare vouchers, hammered Bush-era spending, chided House budget cuts to South Security, slammed proposals for tax cuts for the wealthy, and mocked Republican Mitt Romney’s controversial secretly-recorded words concerning the 47% of Americans.
“This isn’t your father’s Republican party,” joked Biden. “It’s not Mitt Romney’s father’s Republican Party.”
The Vice President additionally echoed Obama’s pledges to create new skilled jobs, promote fair trade, cut oil imports, end the war in Afghanistan, and implement upper-income tax increases to reduce the deficit.
Biden received hearty applause from a crowd that was initially entertained by an oldies cover band and roused by words from several local Democratic organizers.
Nearing the end of his remarks, enthused attendees were quieted with poignant words about the United States’ military and the “fallen angels” of Iraq and Afghanistan. Noting how he tracks the reports of each tragic death, Biden concluded on a patriotic tone, also heard during the Democratic National Convention.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s never been a good bet to bet against the American people. Together with your help, we will win this election.”
Noticeably absent from consideration was the topic of housing, which has greatly affected Florida during the President’s first term. Furthermore, Republican critics would note the lack of specifics, as Biden seemed content to convey aspirational goals.
Upon concluding his speech, Biden stepped down from the podium and embraced hundreds of nearby spectators. Allotting 20 minutes for shaking hands, posing for photos, and sharing brief exchanges, the Vice President gradually greeted a giddy line of supporters and then departed with a final enthusiastic wave.
The visit to Fort Myers follows President Obama’s own appearance at the cross-town Harborside Events Center in July. With less than 40 days till the election, October undoubtedly will sizzle from 4 planned debates between the contenders.
The vice presidential candidates will spar verbally on Thursday, October 11, at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
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