Matt Rourke, Associated Press
Vice President Joe Biden waves as he walks onto the field before giving the commencement address ar the University of Pennsylvania's 257th Commencement, Monday, May 13, 2013, in Philadelphia.
It's never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America. —Vice President Joe Biden

PHILADELPHIA — Today's college graduates are well-positioned to lead America in the 21st century and shouldn't listen to cynics who say the nation is in decline, Vice President Joe Biden told thousands of new degree holders at the University of Pennsylvania on Monday.

"It's never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America," Biden said. "You're the most competent, capable, caring generation this country has ever produced."

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His speech at Penn's commencement came after a few lighthearted comments about the cost of higher education. Biden's daughter and one of his sons are alumni of the Ivy League school, and his granddaughter just finished her freshman year there.

His wide-ranging remarks sounded like a campaign speech at times, touting the progress of gay marriage, dismissing skeptics of climate change, discussing the rise of China and expressing support for immigration reform.

But his main message to graduates was that they should have faith in their abilities.

"Today, for all the uncertainty you may feel, the future is in your control," Biden said. "Don't listen to the cynics."

Biden also received an honorary degree at the ceremony.