A day after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to the nation's oldest civil right organization, Vice President Joe Biden appeared at the NAACP's annual convention. He quickly tackled one issue that drew Romney sustained boos — the 2010 health care overhaul.
Biden appeared in place of President Obama, who made a brief videotaped address thanking the group for its work. He walked out to warm applause, and several of his remarks were interrupted by shouts of agreement.
When he mentioned what he sees as the benefits of the health care law, the shouts changed to roars of approval. Biden declared that 8 million black Americans now have health care insurance under the new law, and thanked Obama for his leadership.
Biden spelled out further differences between Obama's campaign and Romney's on health care, the environment, equal pay for women and education. He claimed Romney's tax reforms are skewed for the wealthy at the expense of domestic programs that help less affluent people. Biden asserted more than 2 million black Americans will see their taxes go up under the tax plan Romney is proposing.
As NPR's Liz Halloran reports, when Romney yesterday said President Obama blamed the rich for economic problems and contrasted his own efforts as helping the middle class: "The audience reaction? Crickets."
But Biden's hugest response came on voter ID laws, a subject the civil rights group is keenly tracking. Romney did not address the matter yesterday. After discussing the NAACP's long history of fighting for African Americans' right to vote, Biden queried, "did you think we'd be fighting these battles again?"
Biden said ballot access should be "expanded and unencumbered". Then he recalled his years in the Senate, where he worked with the GOP on voting issues like motor voter, early voting and voting by mail. But times have changed, he said, adding: "This ain't your father's Republican party."
The vice president concluded by urging convention delegates to imagine a changed Justice Department under a President Romney. And he warned Romney would make substantial changes to the Supreme Court.