Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the College

by MICHAEL RIORDAN | 9/21/12 2:35pm

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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. His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has consistently proposed budget cuts to public education programs, Biden said, 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 can he be so profoundly wrong about America?" Biden said.

The Republican ticket's positions are consistent with the party's worldview that America 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 said.

"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 referred to the Democratic Party's liberal position on social issues, including gay marriage and women's reproductive health rights. Romney's potential Supreme Court nominees would support curbing minorities' civil liberties and overturning Roe v. Wade, Biden said.

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

A second Obama administration would end the current war in Afghanistan, 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 female reproductive rights should motivate women to support the president, she said.

First Lady of New Hampshire Susan Lynch introduced the vice president and his wife and said that New Hampshire 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.

New Hampshire residents interviewed at the rally said they attended the event because they wanted to hear from Biden in person.

Lin Hill, director of the awards program at Practice Greenhealth, a nonprofit 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, P.J. Tierney, an Episcopal priest and author of "Theocracy: Can Democracy Survive Fundamentalism?" said.

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.