This week the race for Iowa’s six electoral votes is in the hands of the Vice Presidential candidates. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks attended rallies by both Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.
Although they were in different parts of the state you would have thought the two vice presidential candidates were debating in the same room. Vice President Joe Biden welcomed his opponent, "the good thing about Romney picking Ryan, is that Romney’s vague promises have now been given definition."
The candidate’s speeches highlighted stark differences. On Monday at the Embassy Suites in Des Moines Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan talked about the power of building business to bring back the nation’s economic strength, "the American idea has always been people working hard to get ahead, people taking risks, people creating businesses, that’s where most our jobs come from." But Biden says it is the middle class that supports and bolsters businesses, "we know the way to create good jobs is the old fashioned way. From the middle out, not the top down. When the middle class is doing well, everyone does well."
Those are two totally different views and both say you have to pick a side. Now. In this election. Either you support businesses and hope they grow jobs, or you focus on growing customers and hope they patronize businesses so they can grow jobs. But Ryan says President Obama’s vision creates class warfare, "we don’t need a president speaking in such divisive terms. Pitting people against each other, speaking as if were stuck in some class. We want a president to get back to work to balance this budget to get us back on the path to prosperity and economic growth."
But Biden says it is not that simple, he says to grow wealth you have to invest in people. And he says it isn't class warfare, it’s about shared responsibility, "the rich are just as patriotic as the poor and the middle class, but the last thing they need, the last thing they need, are these tax cuts. Nothing in their standard of living will change if the tax cut does not go forward and the new ones not added. But it changes markedly the lives of millions of Americans and the opportunities for millions of Americans."
In this election voters will have to decide just which America they want. Heres is how Paul Ryan presents his side, "we are giving you this very clear choice of two futures. If we reclaim our founding principles we can get back to the American idea of an opportunity society with a safety net, and a society of upward mobility of growth of opportunity of prosperity."
But Biden accuses the Republican ticket of going backwards and says his side is looking to the future. "America is not only coming back, we are not going back, were going forward. And I've got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan, it’s never been a good bet to bet against the American people."
First-year Grinnell college student Colleen Moesler says she knows which America she wants, "the thing that I took home was the absolute differences between the campaigns, and whether we are going to be going back to policies of the cold war and the sixties or whether we are going to be embracing change that everyone’s waiting for."
But at the Ryan rally on Monday, voters saw the Romney ticket as worth the wait. In Iowa that wait isn’t too far off, early voting begins on September 27th. And whether people believe in the conservative vision of growing business or the democratic one of growing a consumer class will soon become clear.