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Biden speaks on economy and change at rally; VP candidate greets crowd in Fort Myers

By Staff | Oct 9, 2008

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden brought his campaign’s message of change and economic reform to Fort Myers at a rally held at Alico Arena on Wednesday.

The crowd of about 5,000 rose to their feet with chants of “yes we will” frequently throughout Biden’s speech, but the loudest applause came when he used a familiar phrase to speak of the war in Iraq.

“To quote an elder Bush, read my lips, we will end this war,” Biden said to rapturous applause.

President George Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, infamously used the phrase “read my lips” during his failed 1992 campaign.

Biden spoke for about 40 minutes, pushing the message of his running mate, Barack Obama, and chiding Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s recent attacks of Obama’s character.

At a campaign rally in Estero on Monday, McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, spoke about Obama’s connection to William Ayres, a member of the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground.

Obama has denounced Ayres’ activities while a member of the group, which included engaging in a domestic bombing campaign. Obama’s campaign has also noted he was 8 years old when those activities occurred.

Biden noted the subject of Ayres did not come up during Obama and McCain’s town hall debate Tuesday night.

“I didn’t hear a single question, not a single word about the ugly, unbecoming personal attacks on Barack Obama. We’re tired of this stuff. These debates, this election is about you, not us,” Biden said.

Biden also acknowledged the tough economic times in Southwest Florida and the nation at large.

“Unfortunately, Florida is second in the nation in home foreclosures, and I think, I could be wrong, but I think Lee County is first in the nation in foreclosures,” Biden said.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area did in fact lead the nation in foreclosure rates for July but dropped to sixth in August.

A plan to invest $15 billion each year over the next 10 years into renewable energies, Biden said, will create “green” jobs to aid the economy and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Naples resident Ulises Vargas was quite pleased with Biden’s speech.

“It was inspirational,” he said.

Vargas said he is looking forward to “the stability of the economy and a better name for our country overseas” should the Obama-Biden ticket win the election.

Cape Coral City Councilmember Jim Burch also attended the event, and said Obama will provide some needed new blood to the nation’s highest office.

“I need some new life in there. They just offer a change we so desperately need,” Burch said.

The health of the middle class was a recurring theme in Biden’s speech, and he said it is paramount to turning the economy around.

“When the middle class is hurting, everyone in America is hurting,” Biden said. “We don’t measure progress in terms of how well the CEOs are doing, we measure progress in terms of the dignity and respect of the middle class.”