DETROIT — On a warm Labor Day in the shadows of skyscrapers, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to thousands of union supporters here Monday, addressing the concerns of a city defined by organized labor and the auto industry.

Biden spent most of the speech critiquing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a Michigan native, and his running mate, Paul Ryan. Biden described Romney — who wrote a piece for The New York Times in 2008, famously titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” — as indifferent to the working class and unfaithful to his promise of increasing employment.

“Folks, you can’t say you’re going to create jobs in the United States of America, when you’re willing to let one million jobs go under by liquidation of the automobile plants,” Biden said.

Biden also addressed recent claims by Ryan that Obama was to blame for the closure of a General Motors plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisc. The plant actually closed before Obama was elected, and Biden was quick to point that out, claiming that it was “actually closed on President Bush’s watch.”

While Biden said he agreed with Ryan that the economic state of the country was dire, he said Obama’s role in it was quite the opposite, claiming the president’s work has allowed more automotive plants to remain open.

“Before the sacrifices you made — UAW members made — before those sacrifices and the courage of the president, all the GM plants would have been closed,” Biden said.

The reason, Biden said, the U.S. has made any recovery so far is in large part because of American workers. Specifically, Biden cited a study claiming Michigan workers were significantly more productive than their Chinese counterparts.

“Look folks, we know who built this country, and we know who’s going to rebuild it — it’s you,” he said. “And instead of vilifying you, we should be thanking you … you — organized labor — are one of the reasons why this country is coming back.”

Biden also spoke out against right to work laws, which allow employees to independently decide to join or support a union and make it illegal for business to have contractual agreements to employ strictly union members.

“Right to work means the right to work for less, not for what you deserve,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, that’s not going to happen as long as we’re here — it will not happen.”

Biden also refuted claims by Romney that Obama was out of touch and argued that Romney was the aloof candidate, citing his offshore financial arrangements.

“How many of y’all have a Swiss bank account? How much you got invested in the Cayman Islands?” Biden said of Romney.

While Biden’s speech didn’t focus on foreign policy, it came into play when Biden inquired about why America is better off today than four years ago, citing two key moments in Obama’s presidency.

“I’ve got a bumper sticker for you,” he said. “Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”

Biden would repeat that phrase twice more before wrapping up his speech.

The event, featuring several speakers, began with a speech by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.), who is also running for re-election this fall.

Stabenow spent an early portion of her speech defending and lauding Obama as one of the people who “stood with Michigan when no one else would.”

She added if the country were to stay with Obama, Michigan — which has faced significantly more hardships than other states — would not only return, but lead the return.

“We need to keep pushing and pushing to make sure that it comes back even faster, but we have turned that corner,” Stabenow said. “I believe that America, if we stay the course, will come roaring back and Michigan will be in the driver’s seat.”

The crowd was responsive to the speeches, often breaking out in cheers and chants. The only negative responsive came from Biden’s first mention of Romney and Ryan. Biden, however, quickly turned the jeers into applause.

“Folks, as the president says, we don’t need your boos. We need your votes,” Biden said.

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