CANTON, Ohio — Vice President Joe Biden told an amped-up Canton crowd Monday that Mitt Romney is so vague with his plans he’s “Etch-A-Sketchy.”
In what sounded like a preview of Monday night’s final presidential debate, Biden said he and President Barack Obama have committed to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Asked if this step is possible by 2014, he said Romney and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, respond, “Maybe.”
“It depends,” Biden told a crowd of about 850 at the J. Babe Stearn Community Center in southwest Canton. “It’s like everything else with them. It depends on what day you find these guys.”
Biden spoke for about 30 minutes, touching on both foreign policy — the topic of Monday’s debate — and domestic issues while pumping up a receptive crowd. He concluded by telling the audience, “We can win Ohio and, when we win Ohio, we win this election.”
Biden’s visit was part of a three-day swing he’s making across Ohio. He traveled to Lorain on Monday afternoon, will be in Toledo on Tuesday morning, then will meet Obama in Dayton in the afternoon for their first joint appearance of this campaign. Biden will finish with a stop Wednesday in Marion.
Their opposition also will have a strong presence this week in Ohio, which is still considered a key swing state in the Nov. 6 election.
Romney will be in the state Thursday and Friday, while Ryan will visit Wednesday and Saturday. Details of the stops have not been publicly released.
Biden’s appearance in Canton came as polls released Monday showed Obama leading, though not by as much as he was before, or neck-and-neck with Romney in Ohio. A Quinnipiac University Poll showed Obama up by 5 points, about half the margin he had during the university’s last poll. A Suffolk University poll showed the candidates tied at 47 percent.
Monday marked Biden’s first visit to the Akron-Canton area of this campaign. He visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and an Akron union hall in 2008.
Jesse Elder, 30, of Massillon, was excited to attend a campaign event for the first time. He said he likes everything Obama and Biden have been doing for the past four years and credits them with the job he has at the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
“A lot of people don’t see it,” he said of the progress. “It takes time.”
For Jamaica Madison, 34, of Canal Fulton, the most important issue of this campaign is health care. She and her mother have health problems and are unable to get insurance coverage. Her mother, who had a heart transplant, is paying $2,000 a month for medication.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” said Madison, a married mother of two who isn’t able to work because of her congestive heart failure and emphysema.
“I don’t think it would get any better with Mitt Romney. It would probably get worse.”