COUNCIL BLUFFS — Joe Biden's two favorite words may well be “middle” and “class.”
The Democratic vice president talked frequently about the nation's middle class Thursday during a campaign rally here, where he accused Republicans of causing the Great Recession that “decimated” the ranks of the middle class.
Biden also heaped criticism on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, accusing him of flip-flopping on his tax plan and issuing “vague promises and assertions” to voters.
“It's bad enough Governor Romney won't release the details of his (income) taxes, but now he won't release the details of what he plans to do with our taxes,” Biden said during the rally at the Mid-America Center.
About 450 people attended the event, which marked Biden's sixth visit to Iowa this year.
Iowa is one of about six crucial battlegrounds that will play a pivotal role in the Nov. 6 presidential election. Polls show that neither Romney nor President Barack Obama has a lock on Iowa.
Biden's visit was gaffe-free. The vice president, famous for making verbal missteps, did not create any controversy while in Iowa.
But he did inject an element of surprise into his visit, with an impromptu stop at a Hy-Vee store in Council Bluffs, where he chatted with customers and ate a cup of vegetable beef soup before the rally.
While in the store, he was spotted by Karen Foley, 35, who talked with Biden for a couple of minutes.
She later told a reporter that Biden jokingly introduced himself as “Joe Finnegan'' because her last name is Irish.
“I said, ‘No, you're not (Finnegan), I know who you are.' He said, ‘You're very pretty,'” Foley recounted.
Biden campaigned here as his boss was resoundingly criticized by pundits and others for performing poorly in Wednesday night's debate against Romney.
However, Biden had a different take.
He said he talked to Obama shortly before he took the stage at the rally. The two talked about the debate, with Biden praising the president's performance.
“He's my buddy. I want to tell you something, I think he did a great job (last night),” Biden said.
Biden is next up on the debate hotseat. He will face off against Republican Paul Ryan next Thursday at Centre College in Danville, Ky.
Biden accused Romney of flip-flopping on his tax plan during Wednesday's debate.
He said Romney had proposed a $5 trillion tax cut that would translate into lower taxes on wealthy Americans, with middle-class Americans footing more of the bill.
Romney has denied he plans to cut taxes by $5 trillion. He said during the debate that his plan to reduce the nation's tax rates would be offset by eliminating unspecified deductions and exemptions.
Biden said Romney is right about one thing: Obama does plan to raise taxes by $1 trillion by allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans to expire.
“We want to let that trillion-dollar tax cut expire so the middle class doesn't have to bear the burden of all that money going to the super-wealthy. That's not a tax raise. That's called fairness where I come from,” Biden said.
Earlier this week, Biden caused consternation in Democratic circles — and glee in the ranks of Republicans — when he said America's middle class has been ‘buried' in the past four years.
Republicans quickly jumped on Biden's statements, saying it appeared he was acknowledging that the middle class was worse off under Obama.
But on Thursday, Biden directly tied middle-class woes to policies enacted under former President George W. Bush.
He said that Republicans doubled the nation's debt during Bush's eight years in office and that Bush-era policies led directly to the Great Recession that Obama inherited when he took office in 2009.
“Their policies took the middle class into an incredible black hole,” Biden said.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Council Bluffs.