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GOP attacks Biden as a 'governing liability'

As the vice presidential debate approaches, the Republicans look to cast doubt on Vice President Joe Biden's effectiveness. Democrats counter that Biden is an capable campaigner and appeals to blue-collar workers.

By Ken ThomasAssociated Press / September 2, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at the United Auto Workers Local 1714 Union Hall, Friday, in Lordstown, Ohio. Republicans are trying to cast doubt on Biden's ability to serve as an effective second-in-command, as they attempt to bolster GOP Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan's image.

Mark Stahl/AP

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Charlotte, N.C.

Republicans are trying to undermine Vice President Joe Biden's effectiveness as the Obama campaign's chief surrogate and liaison to white, working-class voters and seniors, influential groups courted aggressively by both parties.

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With relentless attacks aimed at portraying President Barack Obama's running mate as a governing liability, Republicans hope to raise the stature of GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who will debate Biden next month, and score points in closely contested states such as Ohio, Florida, and New Hampshire.

"Paul's a close friend, a great family man, and he's got a reformer's heart," Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said at last week's Republican convention in Tampa, Fla. "Contrast this to Joe Biden. Vice President Biden has told people out of work to 'just hang in there' — so much for 'hope and change.'"

As Democrats prepare for their convention in Charlotte, N.C., the GOP is casting the 69-year-old former Delaware senator as a gaffe-prone crazy uncle who's hung around the political scene too long. At the same time, Republicans hopes that sullying Biden's image will help confirm Ryan, the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman, as a deep thinker destined to take on many of the nation's most pressing challenges.

In an opinion piece published this past week by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson noted that Biden had said the economy felt like a "a depression" and he accused the vice president of straying from "the Obama campaign talking points."

At the GOP convention, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who joined Obama, Biden and House Speaker John Boehner for a round of golf last year, recalled Biden telling him he was a "good golfer. And I played golf with Joe Biden, and I can tell you that is not true, as well as all of other things that he says."

Even unscripted moments have included knocks at Biden.

Actor Clint Eastwood's convention monologue, beside an empty chair, included a swipe at Biden.

"You're crazy, you're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden," Eastwood cracked in his made-up conversation with Obama. "Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party. Kind of a grin with a body behind it."

Biden himself has given as good as he gets.

He often is the loudest voice in the campaign's criticism against the Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Biden led the charge against Romney in a series of speeches in battleground states last spring. He routinely bashes Romney and Ryan's assertions of promoting a "bold" plan on taxes and the Medicare.

"There is nothing gutsy about giving another trillion dollars in tax cuts to millionaires. There is nothing bold about turning Medicare into a voucher system," Biden said in Lordstown, Ohio, on Friday.

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