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Vice President Joe Biden ignited a fresh round of partisan bickering when he told a crowd at a Virginia campaign stop on Tuesday that the GOP ticket’s approach to the financial industry would put the middle class "back in chains."
The vice president's remark came about two-thirds of the way through a 30-minute speech and referred to Mitt Romney’s plan to repeal 2010’s Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill, the Washington Post notes. Here it is in context:
[Romney] said in the first hundred days, he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y’all back in chains.
On the ground, the comment was received with a smattering of laughs from the multiracial audience, according to the New York Times. A few states away, however, it was greeted with outrage.
Mitt Romney, out stumping in the battleground state of Ohio, charged that the comments by gaffe-prone Biden "disgrace the office of the presidency," adding, "Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America."
The issue bounced back to Virginia, Politico reports, when Biden responded to the GOP outrage at another campaign appearance later in the day, arguing that he was simply borrowing terminology from Paul Ryan and other Republicans who have spoken about their plans to "unshackle" the economy. Meanwhile, Obama campaign staff dismissed the attacks and clarified that Biden was "clearly using a metaphor."
With the wheels of political spin in high gear, prominent figures on both sides of the partisan divide have taken to the airwaves and their Twitter accounts to weigh in. Romney surrogate John Sununu said on MSNBC that some people will take Biden’s remark "as some kind of code word that is going to suggest that the Republicans are trying to racial in their programs."
Taking to Twitter, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer compared the incident to Sarah Palin’s 2008 comment about "blood libel," and mused about how the press will respond, while Obama adviser David Axelrod mocked the Republican’s "phony outrage."