By Amie Parnes - 08/15/12 11:44 PM EDT
President Obama on Wednesday defended Vice President Biden's "chains" comment, saying it was not meant to "connote" anything other than the Wall Street reform he was discussing at a campaign rally.
The vice president made headlines and drew swift criticism from Republicans on Tuesday after he told a crowd at a campaign stop in Virginia that Mitt Romney's policies would put "y'all back in chains." The Romney campaign seized on the comment to say that the Obama campaign had hit a new low.
But an "unrattled" Obama told People magazine the comment was taken out of context and that Biden was discussing that "consumers, the American people, will be a lot worse off it we repeal these [Wall Street reform] laws, as the other side is suggesting."
"In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that," Obama said. "The truth is that during the course of these campaigns, folks like to get obsessed with how something was phrased even if everybody personally understands that's not how it was meant. That's sort of the nature of modern campaigns and modern coverage of campaigns.
"But I tell you, when I'm traveling around Iowa, that's not what's on people's minds," Obama added.
In the interview with the magazine, Obama called Biden "an outstanding vice president."
"He is passionate about what's happening in middle-class families," he said. "So I will be talking to him a whole lot about the campaign in general."
Earlier on Wednesday, Biden did not show any signs of apologizing for his comments on Tuesday.
"I know I am sometimes criticized for saying exactly what I mean," he said. "It's not gonna change."
In separate remarks, Biden mocked Republicans for unleashing the attack. "I got a message for them," he said while campaigning in Virginia. "If you want to know what's outrageous, it's their policies and the effects of their policies on middle-class America."
Hours after Biden made the remark in Danville, Va., Mitt Romney accused the Obama campaign of having turned negative and added that this is "what an angry and desperate presidency looks like."
"Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago," Romney said at a campaign stop in Ohio.