Biden in Waterloo: Outsourcing Has Hurt Iowa, America

KCRG/Gazette/Waterloo Courier Staff Reports

Vice President Joe Biden spoke to members of the United Auto Workers in Waterloo on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. (BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer)

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By Aaron Hepker

WATERLOO, Iowa — Vice President Joe Biden worked to fire up about 400 Barack Obama supporters Tuesday while speaking in Waterloo, in advance of the November election. This is the third time this year he’s come to Iowa on behalf of President Obama.

Biden sought to support the Barack Obama campaign’s economic message on his “Strengthening the Middle Class” tour. In opening his speech, Biden spoke of how in his first visit to Waterloo in 1974, the economy was going strong. John Deere had 16,000 employees and Rath Packing was strong. “Then we ran into something we hadn’t heard of before — outsourcing,” Biden said.

He spoke of the struggles in Iowa with Deere shedding jobs and Rath closing its doors. “When Barack and I got elected we were determined to restore the middle class,” Biden said.

Biden’s visit to Eastern Iowa included Tuesday’s stop at the UAW Local 838 hall in Waterloo. Supporters in Waterloo held blue signs with a simple message, “Forward. Barack Obama.”

“Most of the things he said, he kind of took the words out of my mouth,” Rhonda Pearce said. Pearce, of Waterloo, said she knows what it is like to be unemployed. “I have children in my home, I know what it is like to not be able to find a job in my own stomping grounds,” Pearce said.

Before Biden’s Waterloo speech, a video played showing the economic problems Obama faced as he first took office. In the video, narrated by Tom Hanks and including interviews of leaders including former President Bill Clinton and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, it detailed the bailout of automakers and financial industries and repeated the risks associated with letting large components of the economy falter. The video also highlighted Obama’s national security leadership, including the order to launch the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, drawing applause and cheers from the packed house.

Biden talked about the importance of preparing people to fill the growing number of manufacturing jobs. “My husband worked for John Deere for 30 years and is retired now. But I would like to see those good manufacturing jobs be available for my son, my grandson and everyone’s kids in the future,” Mary Averill, of Waterloo, said.

As Biden toured Iowa, the Obama campaign put out a new Iowa-specific TV ad that played off of a Washington Post story that some companies Mitt Romney worked with were early adopters of outsourcing jobs beyond America’s borders. The ad asks “does Iowa really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?”

Diana Harwood, a neighborhood volunteer for the Obama campaign in Cedar Falls, said Iowa will be crucial for winning the campaign and encouraged supporters to volunteer for the campaign.

“Obama needs Iowa to win,” Harwood said to applause. “Remember Florida, Florida, Florida? Well this time it’s Iowa, Iowa, Iowa.”

Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark talked up the economic progress the city has been making in recent years, including John Deere expansion.
“We were fortunate here in the Cedar Valley the Great Recession caused by eight years of failed Bush policy didn’t hit us as hard as in other places,” Clark said.

Biden called Buck Clark a “good, close personal friend.” He went on to say all politics are personal.

Shawn McCoy, Iowa communications director for the Mitt Romney campaign, countered Biden’s visit with a statement questioning the economic direction of the country.

“President Obama’s policies have failed the middle class. Under President Obama, median household income has dropped and nearly one in five Iowans have experienced economic insecurity while rising insurance premiums, gas prices and grocery bills have put a squeeze on family budgets. Governor Romney understands we need a new direction and will put policies in place starting Day One to move our country in a new direction,” McCoy said.

Biden will speak in Dubuque at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the Grand River Center. He will then make his final stop in Clinton.
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