By Don Davis
MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Biden says differences between presidential candidates are bigger this year than ever, and while in Minnesota Tuesday he did not hesitate pointing them out.
“This country faces one of the starkest choices in my memory,” the vice president said during a 37-minute rally speech on behalf of him and his boss, President Barack Obama.
The Democratic ticket is the answer to the country’s economic problems, Biden said, strongly attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
“Clearly, Republican obstructionism has slowed our progress, but it has not stopped our progress,” he declared.
In his Minneapolis speech, Biden said little about Minnesota or issues of particular interest to the Midwest.
However, early in his speech Biden, who was a U.S. senator from Delaware for 36 years, praised Minnesota Democratic legends Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone.
“God, I loved working with Paul,” Biden said about the senator who nearly 10 years ago died in a plane crash. “We all miss him and I know you do.”
Biden quickly returned to politics in front of 1,556 Democratic-Farmer-Laborite activists at downtown Minneapolis’ The Depot.
“But that tradition continues with Amy, Amy, Amy,” the vice president said, putting in a plug for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is running for her second term this year.
Biden used a sometimes-fiery, sometimes-quiet speech to criticize Romney, who is to be in the Twin Cities for two Thursday fundraisers. Romney’s campaign says no public events are planned so far.
The vice president called Romney “a decent guy” but the most “out of touch” presidential candidate he has known.
Biden shouted that the country’s economy is growing under Obama. He blamed the GOP for holding back progress that would create another 14 million jobs.
Romney and Ryan want to bring back failed economic policies from the George W. Bush era, Biden said. “We have seen this movie before, and we know how it ends. It ends with the great recession of 2008.”
Biden spent most of his speech bashing the Romney-Ryan GOP ticket, but did tell his audience about a bumper sticker Democrats can use: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”
Biden followed his Minneapolis stop with a smaller one in Rochester, Minn.
Minnesota Republican Chairman Pat Shortridge said that state appearances by Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Biden show Minnesota may not be as safe a Democratic state as many think.
“After the VP’s visit, I’m confident we’ll be in even better shape to carry our state for the Romney-Ryan ticket,” Shortridge said.