CINCINNATI - With opinion polls showing declining confidence in President Obama and rising skepticism about White House economic policy, Vice President Biden dropped into Ohio yesterday morning to deliver a fiery defense of the administration and a request for patience.
The address, outside a gutted American Can factory scheduled for renovation, had the tone and tempo of a campaign rally, with Biden repeatedly demanding of the administration's critics, "What would they do?"
"What would they say to those tens of thousands of teachers who got their pink slips this year, but are able to go back into the classroom" because of stimulus funds, Biden said. "What would they do. . . . [Let] all those cops get laid off? Would they say, 'OK, no problem?' "
Biden cited money already committed or spent on the national economic recovery effort. He urged patience and promised his audience that "you're going to see more pace on the ball. . . . Remember, we're only 140 days into this deal. It's supposed to take 18 months."
The last several weeks have been a tough stretch for Biden and the administration, with the national unemployment rate rising another tenth of a point, to 9.5 percent, and Republicans increasing their attacks.
A Quinnipiac University poll of Ohioans released this week showed the president's economic approval rating dropping from 57 percent to 46 percent in the last two months. Forty-eight percent of those polled said they now disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy. The survey of 1,259 Ohio voters has an error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
Obama's overall approval rating dropped from 62 percent to 49 percent. The most significant fall was a 21-point drop among independent voters - a bloc crucial to Obama's victory in Ohio after George W. Bush carried the state in 2000 and 2004.