FORT?DODGE?- Vice President Joe Biden told a cheering Fort Dodge audience Thursday that he and President Barack Obama will build up the nation's middle class in a way that Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan never would.
''We're determined to level this playing field again to give the middle class a fighting chance because never ever have they let this country down when they had a level fighting chance,'' he said.
About 475 people filled the Opera House at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village Thursday afternoon to hear the vice president. Dozens of people lining the building's upper level terrace held blue signs with the Obama campaign's slogan ''Forward'' printed on them, and Biden explained the significance of that word.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks Thursday afternoon during a campaign stop on behalf of President Obama at the Fort Museum Opera House in Fort Dodge. Congressional candidate Christie Vilsack — who also spoke during the stop — listens at right.
''Ladies and gentlemen, the entire history of the journey of this great country can be summarized in one single word: forward,'' he said. ''It's always been forward. Folks, there is no quit in America.''
Shouting into the microphones to be heard over the cheering and clapping crowd, Biden added, ''It's never ever, ever been a good bet to bet against the American people.''
Biden offered no specifics on what he and Obama would do during a second term in office. He attacked Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Ryan, the congressman from Wisconsin, repeatedly. He accused them of changing their positions on issues.
''These guys seem to be running away from their records as fast as they can,'' he said. ''But the problem is you can't out run your shadow. It's not possible. You know it always catches up with you unless the sun goes down. I think the sun's about to go down on those boys.''
According to Biden, there is a big difference between the Republicans and the Obama administration on women's issues.
''They can't quite bring themselves, they can't quite drag themselves into the 21st century on issues related to women,'' he said. ''Their positions are right out of the '50s, man.''
He said the Republicans would repeal a law that prohibits insurers from charging women 50 percent more for health insurance. He also said that during a debate with Obama, Romney failed to take a stand on paying women equal wages for equal work.
Biden said he and the president share a personal commitment to equality for women.
''We believe that my daughter and his daughters, my four granddaughters, they deserve every single opportunity my sons had and my grandsons had,'' he said. ''That is not a negotiable item with us.''
Congressional candidate Christie Vilsack, a Democrat from Ames, joined Biden on the stage and she addressed the audience before the vice president arrived.
''I want to make sure that we can create economic opportunity in all the small towns and cities of this district and that we can basically invite our children back here to live, work and raise their families,'' she said.
She repeated her pledge to be a ''problem solver, not a partisan fighter.''
Vilsack faces U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, in the 4th Congressional District, which includes Webster County and 38 other counties.
At the beginning of the event, Frank Vit, of Fort Dodge, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and Edward Shimkat sang the national anthem.