PARK CITY -- Vice President Biden spoke to a crowd estimated by the campaign to be about 300 people at a fundraiser in Park City, Utah.
The vice president, who was behind schedule, was introduced at about 8 p.m., by John Cumming, host of the event. He took the stage under a white canopy, wearing what appeared to be a blue blazer, blue shirt, no tie and gray pants.
When he started to speak, he removed his jacket and recounted how he had spent many winters in Park City. In 1975, after his wife and daughter were killed and his boys injured after being hit with a tractor-trailer, Biden said a friend suggested he start a tradition of taking an annual trip with his sons, and they came to Park City, and have been to Park City for about 80 percent of the family trips since.
Biden said he had prepared remarks but he wasn't going to use them.
Instead he wanted to share some thoughts and answer questions after the pool was escorted out.
Biden opened by saying that Mitt Romney is an honorable, decent man, but the two campaigns "have a fundamentally different vision for this country. It's as basic a choice as voters have had in a lifetime."
"It's about two very different futures for the United States," he said, proceeding to hit several issue points.
Biden said education is essential to "building the future of the country."
"For Mitt Romney and his allies, education does not play a very important role in the future. They've basically given up on the public school system," Biden said.
He said they are fundamentally different on energy policy. Romney, he said, doesn't believe government should invest in alternative energy research and should drill more, even though Biden said there are more oil and gas rigs in the United States than the rest of the world combined and the United States continues to provide $5 billion a year in subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
"They're not bad guys. They're good guys," he said. "But they're the last people in the world who need an energy subsidy."
Biden said he believes America can be the leader in manufacturing in the 21st Century and that "Manufacturing is coming home. Why? Not out of patriotism or love." He said it is coming back because the United States protects intellectual property and can provide stability that other countries cannot.
He recounted how he had been tasked with Iraq policy when he became vice president -- "It was not something I was looking for," he said of the VPOTUS position -- but he had one of the greatest honors of his life when he got to tell troops in Iraq: "Americans you are dismissed and you're going home like every America warrior has," Biden said to applause, "with honor and knowing that you had completed a job well done."
"Mitt Romney thinks that is a tragic mistake," Biden said, saying that Romney believes America should keep 20,000 troops in Iraq. "Mitt Romney says we should stay there, period."
He said when President Obama took office the U.S. had a "foreign policy where we were not respected by our friends or feared by our enemies," and the president changed that.
He said the administration has had 28 straight months of private sector job growth. "We're in a trough now, but it's still growing."
When he took office, he said, "We were hemorrhaging jobs because of the policies that we had inherited."
And he said a Romney administration would fundamentally alter the makeup of the Supreme Court, appointing more "Scalias, Alitos and Robertses."
"Close your eyes, I'm not being facetious, and imagine what a Supreme Court would look like after four years [of Romney]," he said. "Imagine what it will look like for women with six Scalias on the bench."
He asked how many believed that Roe v. Wade would survive that.
"These guys have a social policy out of the '50s," Biden said.
He went on to say: "They have a foreign policy out of the Cold War,"
referencing Romney's statement that Russia is the United States'
greatest global threat.
"It seems to me that these guys don't get what it's like for normal people," Biden said. "I'm not anti-business, class warfare guy, but guys, too many people in America have made what I call the longest walk," he said, referring to a father who has to tell his children they can't go to camp or play little league or they have to move because "daddy lost his job or mom lost her job."
In conclusion, Biden said that he is bullish on the future.
"I am more optimistic today about the future of this country than I have been at any time in my life," he said. "We are better positioned than any nation in the world to be the leading economy."
After the 40 minute remarks, Biden said he was willing to take questions after giving the pool a few minutes to be escorted out ... which he was.
Admission to the fundraiser started at $100 for young professionals, with premium seating for $1,000, photos for $5,000 per person or
$8,000 per couple.
Robert Gehrke was a member of the press pool covering the event.