Vice President Biden on Tuesday weighed in on the ongoing debate over Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, arguing at a New Hampshire campaign event that the presumptive GOP nominee’s investment-firm background no more qualifies him to serve as president than would experience working as a plumber.
“Your job as president is to promote the common good,” he said, comparing the job of a president to that of a private equity mogul. “That doesn’t mean that private equity guys are bad guys; they’re not. But that no more qualifies you to be president than being a plumber!”
Biden, who spoke to a crowd of over 450 supporters and students at Keene State College, called the private-equity business itself “legitimate,” but pushed the administration’s argument that its imperative of wealth creation for investors doesn’t translate to the skill set of a national leader.
“Folks, making money for your investors, as Romney did very well, is not the president’s job,” he said. “The president has a different job.”
The remarks by Biden represent the latest effort by the Obama camp to sharpen its message when it comes to Romney’s private-sector background. Romney has sought to portray his Bain tenure as relevant to his pursuit of the presidency, arguing that his years working outside government gave him experience in turning around struggling companies and creating jobs.
In recent days, the Obama camp has fine-tuned its response from a broader criticism of Bain to a narrower argument that Romney was working only to “maximize profit” for investors, not for the common good.
Romney’s camp responded to Biden’s remarks. “Vice President Biden is repeating the same misleading attack on free enterprise that has been repudiated by the President’s own supporters. Newark Mayor Cory Booker called the attacks ‘nauseating,’ former adviser Steven Rattner called them ‘unfair,’ and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell called them ‘very disappointing,’’’ said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. “After three years, it is clear that this administration can’t explain three years of broken promises and has instead resorted to making attacks on free enterprise and job creators. Mitt Romney will put in place policies to spur economic growth, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class.”
At least one plumber took offense at Biden’s remarks.
“I definitely have a problem with it,” Samuel Wurzelbacher, also known as “Joe the Plumber,” told the Hill shortly after Biden spoke in New Hampshire.
Wurzelbacher, who became a national figure when he backed the McCain-Palin ticket during the 2008 campaign, is waging a longshot bid against Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).