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Just how competitive is Iowa in the presidential campaign? Enough so that both vice presidential candidates were vying for voters on Monday, just 140 miles apart.
Republican Paul Ryan told about 450 people that the nation needed Romney to reduce government spending, which he says makes sense to frugal residents of Iowa or his home state of Wisconsin. Ryan was critical of a decision by the Federal Reserve last week to initiate additional help to keep interest rates low, saying the government was simply printing more money.
"All this money printing, all this creation of money is sugar-high economics," Ryan said. "What we want, what we deserve, what now need in this country is honest money."
Ryan said borrowing so much will turn the U.S. into a nation similar to those in Europe, where many countries are struggling under heavy debt.
"We're guaranteeing the next generation has a diminished future. We've never done that before in this country," Ryan said.
Meanwhile, in the Mississippi River town of Burlington, Vice President Joe Biden told about 600 people that Obama has a better understanding of their lives. He contrasted that with Romney, saying the Republican was "totally out of touch with the reality everyday Americans deal with."
The Obama campaign has reminded voters across the Midwest that Romney called for the structured bankruptcy of the U.S. auto industry. He made the proposal in an op-ed for The New York Times that the newspaper headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," which Obama and Biden have used to rally voters whose jobs were made more secure by the bailout the administration backed for the auto industry.
"That has real impact in Iowa and Michigan and Ohio and all over this Midwestern part of the United States," Biden said.
Of his Republican counterpart, campaigning in Des Moines, Biden said Ryan is "a smart guy and a good guy." He then proceeded to tie Ryan, a House member from Wisconsin, to the right wing of the GOP, and Romney to him by extension.
The stop featured the twin strengths of Biden: A friendly, folksy air and a willingness to mix it up.
"I hear Romney and Ryan talk about this culture of dependency, this country in decline. I don't live in a country that is dependent or declining. There is no give-up in America," Biden said.
The trip by Ryan and Biden came not long after their last Iowa visit. Ryan spoke Sept. 5 in Adel and Biden visited Iowa City with the president on Sept. 7.
Biden will remain in Iowa for two campaign stops Tuesday.
Obama carried Iowa in 2008 and is hoping to do so again in November. Romney is doing his best to claim Iowa for himself.
Early voting begins in the state on Sept. 27.
The vice presidential candidates are scheduled to meet in a nationally televised debate next month.
Pitt reported from Des Moines, Iowa.