Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Wednesday it took a financial crisis on Wall Street for Republican candidate John McCain to realize the U.S. economy is in trouble. "Where was he a week ago, a month ago?" Biden asked as he campaigned in suburban Toledo at the beginning of a two-day bus tour.
The Democratic campaign of Barack Obama has been relentless in criticizing McCain on the economy, trying to depict him as out of touch when he says the "fundamentals" of the economy remain strong.
"I don't doubt John cares," Biden said of his Senate colleague, who has long supported reducing corporate regulation. "He just doesn't think we have any responsibility to people who are hurting."
Stocks skidded again Wednesday as the government bailed out insurance giant American International Group Inc. The Federal Reserve is giving a two-year, $85 billion loan to AIG in exchange for a nearly 80 percent stake in the insurer, which lost billions in the risky business of insuring against bond defaults.
Wall Street had feared that AIG, which has its tentacles in various financial services industries around the world, would follow the investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy
McCain spokesman Ben Porritt dismissed Biden's talk. "No matter how fiery the sales job, Ohio voters prefer John McCain's maverick record of reforming government and fighting for change," Porritt said.
Biden's bus tour was to take him through areas of Ohio devastated by job losses in manufacturing and the auto industry. The economy remains a top concern for voters in Ohio, where polls show a close race.
Biden told supporters that McCain would only continue what has happened under the Bush administration. He cautioned that McCain was using the same language that Bush used eight years ago as a candidate, employing labels like "reform."
"We have seen this movie before," Biden said. "What we know is the sequel is always worse."