Biden stumps at Hanover event

by MICHAEL RIORDAN | 9/23/12 10:00pm

Vice President Joe Biden denounced the Republican Party's positions on social and economic issues at Friday's event.
by Maggie Rowland and Maggie Rowland / The Dartmouth

In a speech largely focused on expanding access to higher education for young Americans, Biden said that the United States must improve education opportunities in order to compete in the global economy.

"None of us would be standing here today if someone did not reach out and give us a hand in the form of a scholarship or loan," Biden said.

Republican presidential nominee former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., does not believe that the government should play an active role in funding public education, according to Biden. He criticized Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for consistently proposing budget cuts to public education programs, stating that a Romney administration would "eviscerate" public education.

Romney's recent remarks disparaging 47 percent of Americans who are dependent on government assistance highlight the philosophical differences between the two parties, according to Biden.

"How could he be so profoundly wrong about America?" Biden said.

The Republican ticket's positions are consistent with the party's worldview that the United States has adopted a culture of dependency, Biden said. Romney does not realize, however, that a wide range of Americans, including middle-class families and students who take out loans, rely on government programs, he added.

"This is not a country of victims," Biden said. "It has never, ever been a good bet to bet against the American people."

Biden drew cheers from the crowd when he denounced the Republican Party's conservative positions on social issues, particularly gay marriage and women's reproductive health rights. Romney's potential Supreme Court nominees would curb minorities' civil liberties and overturn Roe v. Wade, Biden said.

"This is not your father's Republican Party," Biden said.

The Obama administration would end the current war in Afghanistan in its second term, Biden said, while claiming that Romney has not adopted a coherent foreign policy.

In her opening remarks, Second Lady Jill Biden argued that the election is especially important for women. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a bill that protects female workers from salary inequities, and the administration's commitment to protecting reproductive rights should motivate women to support the president, she said.

First Lady of New Hampshire Susan Lynch introduced the Bidens and said that New Hampshire voters could potentially decide the winner of the presidential election.

Lynch said that her experience working at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center raised her awareness of issues related to health care affordability and delivery. The Obama administration is committed to expanding health care coverage and assisting the "most vulnerable in society," she said.

Robert Avruch '11, Obama for America regional field director for Grafton and Sullivan Counties, delivered remarks before the event and said that he had personally benefited from the Obama administration's reformed student loan repayment program, which reduced his monthly student loan payment from $500 to $98.

"He's fighting for us," he said. "He believes that no matter who you are your religion, your socioeconomic status or your sexual orientation that there is a place for you in America."

Students who attend college in New Hampshire should register to vote in the state, Avruch said.

Media presence at the event included journalists from The New York Times, NBC News and multiple local news outlets. Jill Biden's comment that she had "seen Joe up close" earned laughter from the crowd and received widespread press coverage after the event for its implied sexual innuendo.

New Hampshire residents interviewed aat the rally said they attended the event because they wanted to hear Biden's positions in person.

Lin Hill, director of the awards program at Practice Greenhealth, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting sustainable reforms in the health care sector, said she wanted to talk to Biden about revising the No Child Left Behind Act.

"Resources are currently not going to accelerated students," Hill said. "Provisions need to be added so that schools can provide for them."

Government funding is only mandated for programs that assist underperforming and underprivileged students, she said. If a provision that allocates resources to high-achieving students were added to the No Child Left Behind Act, funds would be better distributed among all students, according to Hill.

"We need to keep America on the cutting edge," Hill said.

The next president must focus on how to improve the nation's position in the world community, according to P.J. Tierney, an Episcopal priest and author of "Theocracy: Can Democracy Survive Fundamentalism?"

Jennifer Davidson '15 said she was glad that Biden focused on student-related issues such as education and college funding and that the speech hit "close to home" for her.

Before the event, Chaplain Richard Crocker delivered an invocation, and local firefighter Brian Rapp led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Dartmouth Aires performed the national anthem after earlier performing three songs before the other speakers took the stage.

The event marked Biden's 13th trip to New Hampshire since the start of his vice-presidency and his sixth of the year, according to an Obama campaign press release.

Earlier in the day, Biden and his wife stopped at the Spring Ledge Farm Stand in New London, N.H., to mingle with store patrons and purchase several pies and a pumpkin.