LANCASTER, Ohio -- Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday said investment in infrastructure projects would create 76,000 new jobs for the middle class in economically hard hit Ohio.
Biden said Barack Obama would spend federal money on projects to rebuild the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, a program that would create 2 million jobs nationwide and would help alleviate the loss of 240,000 jobs in Ohio during the Bush years.
He also repeatedly pegged Republican John McCain's economic policies to the Bush administration. He said McCain's only original idea was for the federal government to spend $300 billion to buy distressed mortgages and renegotiate them at a reduced price.
"Think about that, that means every single bank in America gets off scott-free and the taxpayers foot the bill," Biden said a campaign stop in Lancaster, about 30 miles southeast of Columbus. "That's the only fundamentally new idea John has come up with."
A McCain spokesman said Biden's comments were part of "a campaign that has spent more money on negative advertising than any other in presidential history."
"Biden's assault is a desperate attempt by a candidate to achieve relevance where he is yet to find any," Ben Porritt said.
Biden spoke earlier at a county fairgrounds near the campus of Ohio University in Athens, where he wondered if McCain would mention the middle class by name in Wednesday night's third and final presidential debate, a forum focused on pocketbook issues and domestic policy.
Biden said McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, don't understand the plight of struggling Ohioans, and he decried the fact that the median income of a middle class family in the state has dropped $2,000 in the last eight years and that health care premiums have doubled nationally from eight years ago.
"Everything we will propose for the economy will be targeted toward the middle class," he said of a Barack Obama administration. "When the middle class is growing, everybody benefits. That is the tide that rises all boats."
He also said McCain was trying to run from his support of President Bush's policies.
"You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick," Biden said, crediting Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey with first using the line.
In Athens, Biden said a second economic stimulus package, which Democrats in Congress have called for, would help Ohioans afford the $3,500 that it will cost to heat the average home this winter.
He compared a tax rebate from the stimulus package to a check that Alaska residents receive each year from the state government, a stipend from the proceeds of the state's more than $30 billion oil-rich investment account.
"If a $1000 rebate is good enough for them in Alaska, it sure as heck good enough for the people of southern Ohio," he said.
Biden also recalled a run-in he had with police during his last visit to Athens when he was a University of Delaware student. Biden said that he befriended two female students and attempted to go with them into their dormitory, which was prohibited in those days.
"I was immediately accosted by a cop who arrested me. Now, I promise you, I never breached the first floor," he said to laughter.
Biden was in Ohio for the second consecutive day of campaigning in the eastern and central part of the state. His bus tour was to take him to another college campus in Newark Wednesday evening.