DUBUQUE, Iowa -- Staying on the offensive against Mitt Romney for a second day on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden said that the nominee's attempts to explain his record of aiding companies at investment firm Bain Capital amounted to a "cruel joke."
Referencing the Romney campaign's efforts to distinguish between "offshoring" jobs and "outsourcing" them domestically, Biden mocked the differentiation as a heartless and irrelevant one to those whose job was lost at the hands of a company like Bain.
"If you're looking for work, that's a pretty cruel joke," he said. "I can picture one guy standing next to another guy in the unemployment line and saying, 'Hey John, did you get offshored or outsourced?'"
The gag won the desired effect of guffaws from the crowd of over 400 at a picturesque riverfront event in Dubuque.
In a lengthy address, the vice president echoed his attacks on the GOP nominee from a similar speech in Waterloo yesterday, poking fun at the former CEO's "Swiss bank account" and caricaturing Romney's global reach at Bain.
"You got to give him credit. He created a hell of a lot of jobs in Singapore, China, India," Biden said. "The problem is the guys in my old neighborhood, they don't live in Singapore, they don't live in China."
His speech relied heavily on his own biography here in a part of the state where local Democrats joke he might as well have been born and raised. He conceded at one point that his own blue-collar roots are sometimes overblown even by his own boss.
"Barack makes me sound like I climbed out of a coal mine in Scranton with a lunch bucket," he said to laughter. "No one in my family worked in a factory."
Despite the light-hearted delivery of some of his jabs at Romney, Biden also grimly described the woes of those who remain jobless as the economy chugs out of a devastating downturn.
Offering a mix of positive news about the economy and sympathy for Americans who are still struggling, one of his family anecdotes struck a pessimistic note.
" My grandpa used to say - he's from Scranton - he'd say "Joey, when the guy in Dumore, the next town over, when the guy in Dunmore's outta work it's an economic slowdown. When your brother-in-law's out of work, it's a recession. When you're out of work, it's a depression.'"
"It's a depression for millions and millions of Americans," Biden continued. "It's a depression."
The vice president will return to Washington this afternoon after another stop in Clinton, IA.