Why Joe Biden Needs to Stay

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He isn't just vital to the White House -- he's been the most effective vice president in American history.

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In a recent posting on the Atlantic website, Ben Heineman writes, "Joe Biden should go. He should not be on the Democratic ticket in the fall." Here in the battleground state of Ohio, we couldn't disagree more.

First, no vice president in our history has been more effective. Barack Obama chose Joe Biden because he wanted a running mate who was ready to be president. Clearly, that decision has paid off: Biden's experience and judgment have made him Obama's most valuable partner in restoring America's place in the world and leading America back from the toughest economic crisis in four generations. The vice president played a critical role in the passage and implementation of the president's economic recovery plan. He negotiated the first extension of the payroll tax cut, keeping taxes down on millions of middle-class Americans. He oversaw the wind-down of the war in Iraq and was a powerful voice in refocusing our strategy in Afghanistan. On one tough assignment after another, Joe Biden got the job done.

Second, Vice President Biden is a big political plus for the ticket, and will make a real difference in the swing states this fall. There's a reason the administration keeps sending Joe Biden to tossup states like Ohio, Florida, Iowa, and New Hampshire. He's one of the best campaigners in the business. I've seen what happens when the vice president comes here. I've seen the connection he makes with hard-working Ohioans. I've seen the look in people's eyes that says, "Here's a guy who understands me." An Obama-Biden ticket will be formidable in swing states.  

Third, Joe Biden has spent his entire career fighting for what the 2012 election is all about -- the future of the middle class. Heineman writes that the first role of the vice-presidential nominee is "energizing key constituencies." For the record, Biden is extremely popular with core Democratic constituencies -- from women voters inspired by the 20 years he has led the charge for the Violence Against Women Act to rank-and-file union members who know how much he has stood up workers' rights. But what Heineman doesn't seem to understand is that the key constituency this year is the middle class.

There is simply no better running mate to energize the middle class than Joe Biden. That's who he is. It's where he came from -- and more important, it's what he has spent his life fighting for. Here in Ohio, people are struggling to pay their bills, send their kids to college, care for aging parents, and save for their own retirement. Joe Biden has an unbreakable bond with middle-class values, middle-class voters, and the struggles of middle-class life. As he has already shown on the campaign trail, he's the perfect guy to point out that Mitt Romney is the one who's out of touch.

President Obama is absolutely right that the future of the middle class is the defining issue of our time. This election will make the difference in building an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules. In an election that's make-or-break for the middle class -- and that's what 2012 is -- Barack Obama is right to want Joe Biden on the ticket.

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Ted Strickland was the 68th governor of Ohio.

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