COCONUT CREEK — In his second official speech of the campaign, Vice President Joe Biden's retirement community address Friday was right out of the Democratic playbook: Accuse Republicans of wanting to "dismantle" Social Security and Medicare.
President Barack Obama's running mate briefly discussed some of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, but he pointedly avoided mentioning it by name on the date of its second anniversary.
Biden spent more time bashing the budget-cutting plans of Rep. Paul Ryan, who's not on the ballot, than the likely Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
"There is no daylight between Gov. Romney and Republican leaders on the most important issues facing this country," Biden said. "Not even Romney's Etch A Sketch can change that."
The crowd laughed at the Etch A Sketch reference that has bedeviled Romney this week ever since his campaign's senior adviser suggested the Republican candidate could "reset" his message in the same way one can erase a picture on the old child's art toy.
Most of Biden's speech at Wynmoor Village was straightforward and sober, however. He suggested that Republicans want to use the country's debt and financial crisis to dismantle Medicare and Social Security. The substance of his speech was a clear indication that Obama will run as much against Romney as he will against congressional Republicans who support Ryan's budget plan.
"The choice they made was, in order to 'save the program,' they lowered the standard of living for those on Medicare," Biden said. "Rather than asking the wealthiest among us to help deal with the problem."
Biden made scant mention of the fact that most of Ryan's budget cuts were reserved for the less-popular Medicaid program for the poor. And he didn't clearly state that this year's Ryan plan was supposed to give retirees a choice: stick with traditional Medicare or go into a voucherlike system to buy private insurance.
Biden, pointing to a Politico article that detailed how Ryan used "poll-tested" words for this budget rollout, said there was little difference between this year's plan and last year's.
"If you take a look at it, they didn't really change anything they were trying to do," Biden said. "What's the difference between these two budgets? It's the way they talk about it."
Though Biden spent most of his time bashing Ryan and Romney, he indicated that Republican candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would be just as tough on entitlement programs.
"Make no mistake," he said, "if any of them get their hands on the keys to the White House, I promise you they will end Medicare as we know it."