Toby Talbot, Associated Press
HANOVER, N.H. — Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that GOP nominee Mitt Romney was "profoundly wrong" in saying 47 percent of Americans see themselves as victims dependent on government to take care of them.
It was the first time Biden had publicly responded to comments Romney made on a hidden camera video released this week, and he did it in his classic fiery style. Speaking at Dartmouth College, Biden angrily recited a list of people he accused Romney of writing off, from widows living on Social Security to veterans receiving government health care. In a nod to the mostly student crowd, his voice built to a shout when he got to the millions of college students receiving federal grants.
"How could he be so profoundly wrong about America? How is that possible?" Biden said forcefully. "Not in my neighborhood! Not where I grew up! Not the people I know!"
When the audience booed, Biden said, "I don't need your boos. I need your help."
In the video recorded in May and published this week on the Mother Jones website, Romney said that his job as a candidate is not to worry about the 47 percent of Americans whom he said pay no income taxes and see themselves as victims. Biden contrasted Romney's comments with what he described as the Obama campaign's fundamental philosophy that hard work and responsibility will be rewarded, that everyone plays by the same rules and that everyone gets an opportunity to improve their lives.
"We don't think people who reject responsibility should be given opportunities again, we think they've made a choice," Biden said. But he argued that the vast majority of people Romney referred to do take responsibility.
"As my dad would say, I don't expect the government to solve my problems but I at least expect it to understand my problems," Biden said.
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, the campaigns were trying to win older voters with speeches before the AARP convention in New Orleans. Biden meanwhile, focused on younger voters, telling college students that Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan consider education "an afterthought."
He said the budget plan crafted by Ryan in Congress and endorsed by Romney includes $4.9 billion in education-related budget cuts, including reducing federal Pell grants for college students.
"God knows how many that will knock out of school," he said. "The Romney budget doesn't do anything for education. What it does is eviscerate it."
Responding to Biden's remarks, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams repeated Romney's comment that he will be "a president for 100 percent of Americans."
"President Obama yesterday admitted he can't change Washington, and Vice President Biden — having spent the last four decades in Washington — can't either," he said.
Biden also was speaking at rallies Friday evening in Concord and Saturday in Merrimack.
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