On a swing through a state he conceded will be vital in the race for the White House, Vice President Joe Biden fired up Democrats and slammed Gov. Rick Scott as a new breed of Republicans in a pair of appearances, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.
Highlighting the importance of the nation’s largest swing state — and perhaps giving a preview of Democrats’ strategy here — Biden spoke at a dinner kicking off state Democrats’ weekend convention and, earlier in the day, a gathering sponsored by the Florida Education Association, the state’s main teachers’ union.
Much of Biden’s remarks to the dinner focused on national issues, including a mention of President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw all remaining American troops from Iraq by the end of the year that drew a loud round of applause.
And he stressed to Democrats that “this is not your father’s Republican Party,” saying that the GOP has become more intransigent and led to the Obama Administration’s decision to be more combative with Republicans in recent weeks.
“We sat down with them for two and a half years,” Biden said. “They can’t deliver their own party.”
Biden also continued a strategy of focusing on Social Security in a state with one of the largest populations of retired seniors in the nation — quipping that he might repeat Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s infamous remark comparing the program to a “Ponzi scheme” a few thousand times.
Despite Scott’s toxic approval ratings among Democrats — part of poll numbers that remain low across the board — Biden largely held his fire against the governor at the dinner. When Biden did mention Scott by name, the crowd booed loudly.
But speaking to the FEA event earlier, Biden lit into Scott as part of the new breed of Republicans, saying governors like Scott were slashing funding for education and attacking teachers under the guise of standing up to “public employees.”
“Here in Florida, yours is doing both with a particular relish,” Biden said.
Biden said governors like Scott were using the economic crisis and the resulting state shortfalls to force through policies aimed at undermining unions, Biden said.
“Folks, this is one of the biggest scams in American history,” he said. “They’re using you to launch the most direct assault on labor not just in my lifetime but, without hyperbole, since the ’20s.”
In response, Republicans said the economic problem can be attributed to Washington generally and Obama specifically. Lenny Curry, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, played off of an interview last month in which Obama suggested America “had gotten a little soft” in recent decades to say Democrats were misdirecting their fire.
“Well, while Democrats meet in one of the nation