(LAS VEGAS CBS KXNT) About two thousand members of the National Council of LaRaza heard from Vice President Joe Biden at their Las Vegas conference on Tuesday. Biden and wife Dr. Jill Biden were featured luncheon speakers.
Jill Biden, who teaches English as a second language at Northern Virginia Community College, introduced her husband.
The Vice President recalled the 1970s, when as a member of congress he supported LaRaza, pushing for fair housing and other civil rights initiatives.
Biden touched on current political flashpoints, including college loan funding, state-level efforts to pass voter ID laws, health care reform, and immigration enforcement. He highlighted Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s differences with President Obama on the Dream Act, specifically Romney’s promise during the primary campaign to veto it if he reached the White House.
Biden discussed the economy, identifying himself, as he frequently does, as a little guy hailing from a middle-class background. He again recalled Romey’s words from the Republican primary campaign, when the GOP candidate remarked to the Las Vegas press that the remedy for the foreclosure crisis was to let the market bottom out.
The Vice President characterized an extension of the Bush tax rates as a distribution to a narrow group of weatlhy Americans. Biden said the wealthiest are “good people, but nothing has been asked of them.”
Biden’s speech was laced with rhetorical flourishes, as he related the hardships his own family endured when he was growing up. He was called “middle class Joe” by Capitol Hill colleagues when he was first elected, he said, because he wasn’t viewed as a sophisticate.
NCLR has named jobs and the economy as the top election issue for Latinos, eclipsing immigration. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who spoke ahead of the Bidens, nonetheless focused on President Obama’s deportation exemption, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down several provisions of Arizona’s S.B. 1070, calling both events victories.
Villaraigosa predicted that other states will think twice before following Arizona’s path, and received applause when he called for comprehensive immigration reform.
The Romney Camp was quick to note that Biden’s speech comes on the heels of a disappointing jobs report, and point out that under President Obama, Latino unemployment is well above national unemployment above 8 percent.