Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd in Columbus that Americans' willingness to challenge ideas is part of why the United States will remain a world economic power.
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COLUMBUS -- Despite doomsday predictions that competition from "corporate Japan," the "Asian Tigers," and China would overcome America as the next economic superpower, Vice President Joe Biden cautioned Thursday that "it's never a safe bet to bet against America."
"With or without Barack Obama, I am absolutely convinced that America is better positioned than any other nation in the world to be the leading economy in the world, providing Americans with decent jobs," he said. "I'm absolutely convinced that Americans are regaining their confidence about their ability to do that. It will not happen until they believe it's in their reach. It's becoming apparent it is within their reach."
In his second visit to battleground Ohio in less than a month, Mr. Biden met with publishers, editors, and other media professionals attending the annual convention of the Ohio Newspaper Association.
"You can't think differently in a country that worships at the shrine of orthodoxy," Mr. Biden said. "You can't think differently in a country where you are conditioned to accept, and you're not able to challenge the most powerful interests in that country…
"Why are countries that are producing more engineers and scientists not the leading innovators in the world?" he asked. "… It's because in many of those countries that have made such strides in education, they are penalized, they are prevented from challenging orthodoxy, political wisdom, economic orthodoxy, or even scientific orthodoxy. Change only comes through challenge. It's about freedom of ideas, freedom of expression, freedom of speech. You've been the keeper of that flame since the founding of this republic."
The 44-minute speech largely steered clear of the partisan rhetoric that sometimes dominates Mr. Biden's speeches in more political venues.
He mentioned no other candidate by name, other than his boss. Nor did he specifically mention Ohio's March 6 Republican primary contest or its role in Mr. Obama's re-election plans.
But he attempted to make the case that Mr. Obama has the nation on the right economic track with strong recent job creation numbers that have contributed to declining unemployment rates.
Vice President Joe Biden buys ice cream from Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, during his visit to Columbus' North Market Thursday. It was his second visit to Columbus this year.
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"There's nothing to fear in competition," he said. "Americans thrive off of competition. We go into our shell once in a while, but it doesn't take long for the American people to say, 'Enough. Enough.'" They find out time and again around the world it's never a safe bet to bet against America."
He said newspapers should get ready for a new reality that doesn't reinforce the notion of "the inevitability of China's dominance in the 21st century."
"How many times have you heard it? How many times have you written it? How many times have you printed the word 'outsourcing' over the past 25 years?" he asked. "Well, I'm here to tell you, whether we're re-elected or not, you're going to hear over the next 15 years the word 'in-sourcing' as much as you've heard the word 'outsourcing' the last 15 years…
"There's an overwhelming reason why," Mr. Biden said. "People and companies are coming back to the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that the reality of the 21st century is America is coming back. America will continue to be second to no other country in the world."
Republican National Committee spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said Mr. Biden was in Ohio on Thursday because Mr. Obama needs his help here.
The President's fate is largely considered to be tied to how the American economy performs between now and November.
"The Obama Administration has too many problems to count in Ohio, and that's exactly why you see Vice President Biden here today," he said.
Mr. Obama was in the Cleveland area shortly after the first of the year to make a point about what he considers congressional Republican obstructionism, and Mr. Biden has now visited the Columbus area twice.
By comparison, of the GOP presidential contenders who have an Ohio primary fight ahead on March 6, just one has appeared in the state so far in 2012 as they've concentrated instead on earlier primary and caucus states.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich traversed Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will visit the Cleveland area on Feb. 18, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has stops planned in Columbus and Akron on the same day.
The Ohio Republican Party also announced Thursday that it will co-host with its Georgia counterpart a GOP candidate debate on March 1 ahead of the March 6 Super Tuesday. The debate will air live on CNN.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 614-221-0496.