RICHMOMD, Va. (TheBlaze/AP) -- Vice President Joe Biden, appearing with Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate at the swing state's premier party fundraiser today, had this to say about the White House's economic record.
"With virtually zero support from the Republicans," Biden said, "the president and I have moved the country from the worst recession since the Great Depression to 38 months of private-sector growth."
Vice President Joe Biden talks about the Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, June 25, 2013. (Credit: AP)
Biden brought about 1,000 Democrats to their feet repeatedly at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner barely four months ahead of the nation's only competitive governor's race. His appearances at state fundraisers have evoked speculation that he is laying his footing for a 2016 presidential bid.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we stand for equal rights and women's rights," Biden said of the Democrats, while ridiculing this fall's conservative Republican Virginia ticket as extreme captives of tea party ideology.
With Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe at his side, Biden took aim at McAuliffe's opponent, state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who won the GOP nomination with strong tea party support and his socially conservative ticket mates, including outspoken Lt. Gov. nominee E.W. Jackson.
"There is so much they stand for that is so at odds with the value set of Virginians," Biden said.
The vice president warned that a GOP victory in Virginia would only galvanize the tea party's grip on the GOP in Congress, where he said even longtime moderate Republicans are fearful of a primary challenge if they don't do the tea party's bidding.
"They are so afraid of a challenge by the tea party that they vote against what is the right vote. Imagine what they will do to Barack and me if Terry McAuliffe loses," he said.
A McAuliffe victory, he said, would "send a strong signal to Republicans across America that there's no reason to be afraid of these extreme guys."
The Cuccinelli campaign joined the Virginia GOP in using Biden's visit as an occasion to attack the ticket for Obama's clean-energy initiative, warning that it will devastate Virginia's struggling coal industry and drive up utility bills.
Virginia gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, center, visits the Roanoke Regional Airport Monday, May 20, 2013 with fellow Republican candidates E. W. Jackson, right, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Mark Obenshain, left, the party's candidate for attorney General. (Credit: AP)
"With no economic plan or message to tout, Vice President Biden and Terry McAuliffe doubled down on an empty strategy of division and false attacks tonight," the campaign said in a statement that referred to the "Obama/Biden/McAuliffe War On Coal" and government-run healthcare as "harmful to job growth and economic opportunity in Virginia."
State GOP Chairman Pat Mullins called it "the most anti-coal slate of candidates ever fielded in the history of Virginia," a distinction intended to lock up the rural, rugged but independent southwestern tip of the state for the GOP in a neck-and-neck governor's race.
Republicans weren't alone in protesting Biden's trip. About three dozen environmental activists opposed to construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline stood on a street corner as Biden's motorcade passed, waving placards that read "Say No to Big Oil" and chanting "Hey, Joe, you ought to know, Keystone pipeline's got to go."