Biden: U.S. middle class "buried the last four years"

October 2, 2012

WASHINGTON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

told a campaign rally on Tuesday that the middle class has been

buried for the past four years, just longer than President

Barack Obama's time in the White House.

Republicans immediately seized on what they termed a

"stunning admission" by Biden as evidence that Obama's policies

have been bad for the economy, just a day before Obama and his

Republican challenger Mitt Romney meet in their first

presidential debate.

Discussing what the Obama campaign contends are Romney's

plans to raise taxes on most Americans to fund tax cuts for the

wealthy, Biden made his comment in an emotional speech to a

crowd of about 1,050 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"This is deadly earnest. How they can justify ... raising

taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four

years? How in the Lord's name can they justify raising their

taxes and these tax cuts?" he asked.

Voters say the struggling U.S. economy is the most important

issue in the election, and Obama's Democrats and Romney's

Republicans have both been jockeying over which would be better

economic stewards for average Americans.

"Under President Obama, the middle class has suffered from

crushing unemployment, rising prices and falling incomes,"

Amanda Henneberg, a Romney spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The U.S. presidential election is Nov. 6.

(Reporting By Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by

Cynthia Osterman)