Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a rally at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds exhibition hall in Chesterfield, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden made a raw appeal to Virginia's middle class on Tuesday, blasting the GOP presidential ticket for pushing what he says is a blueprint for boosting middle-income taxes while giving trillions in tax breaks to the rich.
Biden said Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan represent a radical and obstructionist brand of conservatism that would sacrifice education and Medicare to help the wealthy.
"Look, folks, this is not your father's Republican Party," Biden said, portraying Romney as out of touch with ordinary people and Ryan as willing to wreck the nation's finances to protect the wealthy from tax increases.
Virginia Republicans countered that it's Obama's policies that will hurt economic growth and kill jobs.
"The president's proposed tax increases will not make the next four years any better than the last. They will only stifle growth and eliminate nearly 20,000 jobs in Virginia alone," said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican Party in Virginia. Short argued that Romney's approach would lower tax rates for all and create 340,000 jobs in the state.
Appealing directly to the moderates who decide elections in Virginia, particularly in middle-class suburbs like Chesterfield, Biden evoked his former Senate colleague from the state.
"I would be dumbfounded if former Republican Sen. John Warner said anything like that," Biden told his audience of more than 500 people in a cramped tractor barn at a county fairground. "I would be dumbfounded. I worked with him for 30 years." Warner retired in 2009 after serving five terms. He was succeeded in office by Democrat Mark R. Warner.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this isn't even Mitt Romney's father's Republican Party," Biden continued. Romney's father, George, unsuccessfully sought the 1968 GOP presidential nomination and was governor of Michigan.
Biden bored in on the Democrats' message to middle-income voters, exploiting Romney's secretly recorded comments to donors at a private fundraiser several months ago in which he said 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes, are dependent on government benefits and consider themselves victims.
"Instead of attacking people who work for a living and pay their way, Romney should be respecting their work," Biden said. "When he said it is not my job to worry about (the 47 percent) ... then whose job is it?"
Biden spoke in Chesterfield County, which has not voted Republican in statewide elections in years. But Chesterfield, a suburb of Richmond, is rich in the middle-income families both presidential campaigns are courting.
Recent polls in the battleground state place Obama slightly ahead of Romney. Obama won Virginia in 2008, becoming the first Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson to gain victory here.