Biden's Stops in Southeast Iowa Aimed at Workers

Vice President Joe Biden takes the stage after being introduced by president of the Grinnell College Democrats, Joe Engleman, at the Harris Center at Grinnell College in Grinnell on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. Biden also campaigned in Ottumwa earlier in the day. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

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By Kara Kelly

GRINNELL, Iowa (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden reached into the heart of blue-collar southeast Iowa on a two-day campaign trip this week, hoping to improve President Barack Obama's chances of carrying the state he captured four years ago.

Biden campaign in Burlington on Monday and Ottumwa on Tuesday before capping the visit with a stop in Grinnell, where he spoke to college students at Grinnell College.

While college students are a strength for the Democratic ticket, white working-class voters like those who populate the small manufacturing towns of southeast Iowa have been a weak spot. Polls show white voters without college degrees prefer Republican Mitt Romney.

Speaking Monday at the Port of Burlington, Biden reminded his audience that Obama's support for the 2009 automotive industry bailout helped the city's Champion spark plug factory. And in Ottumwa, during a morning stop at the Bridge View Center, he promoted the president's proposal to reward companies that move jobs back to the United States with a tax credit.

"Romney's getting tough on outsourcing," Biden said. "That's laughable."

Biden was referring to Romney's position as head of a Boston-based private equity firm that bought some companies that moved jobs overseas.

Iowa is among fewer than 10 states where polls show the race close, and where the campaigns are committing the vast majority of their travel time and spending on advertising and staff.

Obama carried Des Moines County, where Burlington sits on the Mississippi River, and Wapello County, home to Ottumwa about an hour west, during the 2008 election. Unemployment in both counties was running well higher than the state's in July, according to the most recent statistics.

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