- - Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s incendiary comment to a largely black audience Tuesday about Republican Mitt Romney wanting to put voters “back in chains” isn’t the first time he has used slavery imagery in a political appeal.

In 2006, when then-Delaware senator was campaigning in South Carolina for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, he reminded people that he represented a former slave state.

Asked on Fox News how a “Northeast liberal” such as himself could win in South Carolina, Mr. Biden replied, “You don’t know my state. My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state is the eighth-largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a Northeast liberal state.”

That prompted the Philadelphia Inquirer to comment in an editorial, “The senior senator for Dixieware has a ways to go if he intends to persuade conservative Southern Democrats to call him Bubba.”


Way to Iowans’ hearts through their stomachs?

WATERLOO — President Obama is looking for the magic again in Iowa coffee shops and diners. On the farm pasture scorched by drought, on the state fairgrounds where he got the beer and the pork chop he can’t stop talking about.

Mr. Obama is coming back to Iowans as if he wants to reconnect with old friends, telling them he needs one more shot.

The president has been speaking and drinking and eating his way through the state because in Iowa, politics is all about winning over voters one by one, by word of mouth.

Mr. Obama’s higher personal favorability ratings over Republican Mitt Romney also could be a big plus in places like Iowa — especially when voters in the most competitive states are seeing a slew of negative ads daily.


Agency warns about useof codeine in children

The Food and Drug Administration warned physicians and caregivers on Wednesday about the risks of giving the pain reliever codeine to children who have just had surgery to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

The FDA cited three cases where children died after being given codeine after their tonsils or adenoids were removed. A fourth child suffered nonfatal respiratory depression.

The agency said the children were given doses of codeine that were in the typical dose range. It advised health care professionals and parents to be aware of the risks of codeine, and said children should be given the drug at the lowest effective dose possible and for the shortest possible time on an as-needed basis.

The FDA noted some people metabolize codeine much faster and more completely than others, leading to greater risks of overdose and side effects, which can include death. It said the children who died exhibited evidence of being in that group.

If children given codeine suffer side effects like unusual sleepiness, difficulty in waking, confusion or difficulty breathing, the FDA said, parents and caregivers should stop giving them the drug and seek medical attention.

The agency said it is investigating whether there have been other cases of inadvertent codeine overdoses in children. Its review will include looking for instances when the drug has been used to treat pain following other types of operations.

Codeine is found in prescription drugs used to treat pain as well as coughs.

Health Care

Medicare debate takes attention off Medicaid

Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare gets all the attention, but the GOP vice presidential candidate has proposed even bigger changes to medical care for the poor and disabled.

The Wisconsin congressman is calling for states to take over the Medicaid program.

At the same time, Mr. Ryan’s budget would reduce projected federal spending on Medicaid by about $800 billion over 10 years, shrinking the program as a share of the overall national economy.

Mr. Ryan is in sync with his new boss, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who tapped the Wisconsinite as his running mate.

Advocates for the poor and nonpartisan analysts say cuts would result in millions of vulnerable people losing health insurance. Republicans say that won’t happen if states can make the program more efficient.

Medicaid serves nearly 60 million people.


Biden: VP pick highlights GOP’s economic ideas

Vice President Joseph R. Biden says Republican Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate proves that the GOP ticket stands for the economic ideas championed by House Republicans — ideas Mr. Biden and President Obama have long opposed.

Mr. Biden says that for Mr. Romney, “the Etch A Sketch is gone.” The jab is a reference to a Romney aide who suggested during the Republican primary fight that Mr. Romney could reset his strategy for the general election much like one would start a new picture on an Etch A Sketch toy.

Mr. Biden says Democrats are eager to run against Republican economic ideas. He says they are confident they can win despite persistently high unemployment and a sluggish economy. Mr. Biden spoke Wednesday during a rally Wednesday at Virginia Tech.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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