Fanning the flames over Mitt Romney's criticism of 47% of Americans in a controversial video, Vice President Joe Biden sought Saturday to personalize the numbers by conjuring up stark images: U.S. service members hunkered down in a fort under fire, an elderly woman with a hardscrabble existence and a young couple with children barely getting by.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's worth taking a look at who those 47% of the American people are," Biden said at a campaign event in Merrimack.
"Right now, we have 68,000 combat troops in Afghanistan. ... Right now, as we speak, it's well into the middle of the night, heading toward morning. There is some master sergeant sitting in a FOB that I've visited -- a forward operating base -- with six or seven guys and maybe a woman. Up there, defending a position being shelled all night. Who -- because he or she is in a combat zone, risking their lives and too many having given their lives - he is not paying any tax on his salary."
"Does he view himself as a victim?" Biden asked.
His comments came in direct response to Romney remarks caught on a secretly recorded video at a private fund-raiser in May.
In it, Romney said: "There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what."
"There are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them," Romney added. "Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
Democrats have pounded Romney since the tape was revealed.
Biden invoked other stories throughout his speech to personalize those who may not pay federal income taxes.
"How about the 78-year-old widow, who's living alone, scraping by on their Social Security and Medicare -- which she worked, I might add, to earn," he said. "How about that 63-year-old Vietnam veteran from my generation who still has to go to the VA hospital once a week for treatments. The 27-year-old young couple, who in the middle of this recession, they're probably working combined three jobs and have two kids and are at least able to get a child-care tax credit for putting their child in a decent environment while they're at work."
"Are they dependent?" Biden asked.
Though Biden sought to personalize Romney's remarks in similar fashion on Friday, his Saturday comments went further in their starkness and impassioned delivery.
"How can you say we have this cycle of dependency and we feel like victims?" Biden thundered. "They are full of faith and fight and determination. The last thing they think of themselves, the last thing they think of themselves, is as victims.
The Romney campaign responded to Biden's comments though did not directly address Biden's offensive against the GOP candidate's words.
"Vice President Biden today doubled down on the same false attacks and abysmal policies that have failed to turn around our economy and bring change to Washington," campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. "President Obama's broken promises and disappointing record remind voters that the Obama-Biden Administration doesn't deserve another four years in office. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a record of bipartisan accomplishment and real plans to bring change to Washington and finally get our country back on the right track."
Meanwhile, Biden admitted one thing about his candor.
"I have a bad habit of being candid," the vice president said while attacking Romney's tax plan.