President celebrates five years of Biden in VP’s hometown
(CNN) — President Barack Obama may have been the headliner at the last stop on his bus tour on Friday, but it was Vice President Joe Biden who stepped on stage as the hometown star.
Speaking in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Obama noted it had been five years to the day he named Biden as his running mate during the 2008 presidential campaign — a choice, he said, that marked “the best decision I ever made politically.”
“I love this guy because he has heart and he’s got some Scranton in him,” Obama said.
The rally at Lackawanna College was the final stop on a two-day tour that was designed to sell his plan on college costs to students and parents.
The series of events often took on a campaign feel, with the president delivering his messages to largely supportive crowds while occasionally taking swipes at Republicans.
That campaign feeling was only fueled Friday when he offered a slight nod to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who challenged Obama for the presidency last year. Defending Obamacare, Obama said the basis for his 2010 health care law was actually a “Republican idea.”
“There’s a governor in Massachusetts that set it up, it’s working really well,” he said, a reference to Romney’s own state law that provided the GOP presidential nominee some grief during last year’s primary contests.
Republicans, who largely dismissed the president’s events as offering little more than rhetoric, also poked Biden for appearing at the campaign-style stop in Scranton.
In a video, the Republican National Committee characterized the event as simply the first step in the “Biden 2016 kickoff tour.” The vice president has not said whether he’ll make a third run for president in 2016.
During his speech on Friday, Obama spelled out the college affordability plan he first revealed the day before which changes the way the federal government will award federal student aid to colleges and universities, and creates a new rating system for higher education institutions.
He’s also called for students to better educate themselves about the costs they’re incurring, and has called on colleges to rein in their skyrocketing tuition prices.
The speech also marked the first time Biden made public remarks about his son Beau, who this week underwent tests at a cancer hospital in Houston.
The vice president’s office said on Wednesday that Beau, who is the attorney general of Delaware, had successfully undergone a “procedure,” without specifying any particular diagnosis.
Biden said Friday his son was “fine” and “anxious to get back to work.”
By Kevin Liptak