Picking up where Newt Gingrich left off, Vice President Joe Biden cast Mitt Romney's investment firm, Bain Capital, as an example of predatory capitalism that exploits workers.

Bain Capital would advise firms becoming more profitable, a process that often led companies to restructure and shed jobs in the process -- an example of the creative destruction that Romney holds as a basic principle of a market economy. The Obama campaign has started using Bain as a symbol in its portrait of Romney's economic vision in which the rich prosper at the expense of the middle class.

In a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Biden recounted how a Kansas City, Mo., steel mill bought by Bain became mired in debt, fired its workers and eventually filed for bankruptcy while Romney and his partners profited.

Romney made sure the guys on top got to play by a separate set of rules, he ran massive debts, and the middle class lost, Biden said. And folks, he thinks this experience will help our economy? Where I come from, past is prologue. So what do you think he'll do as President? 

2012 Election: Likely To Hinge On U.S. Economy

The 2012 presidential election is all but certain to pivot on the U.S. economy, with Romney touting his business record in an effort to convince voters that he has the experience to rejuvenate the still-sluggish economy. The Obama campaign is building its case around fighting economic inequality, arguing that the Republican Party's blueprint of cutting taxes and slashing spending favors the wealthy, and pushing for government to promote economic growth through investments in education and research.

There's Obama Economics, which values the role of workers in the success of a business, and values the middle class in the success of the economy -- a philosophy that believes everyone deserves a fair shot and a fair shake, and everybody should play by the same rules, Biden said. There's Romney Economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities can be left to fend for themselves.

Romney's Bain record was already a campaign issue during the bloody Republican presidential primary. Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused Romney of practicing vulture capitalism, and Newt Gingrich called Bain's model exploitative and not defensible. The Super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, Winning Our Future, released a documentary called King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town that made a similar critique. 

Party elders and conservative pundits rebuked Romney's challengers for the internecine bloodletting, warning that they were undercutting the eventual Republican nominee by embracing Democratic lines of attack. That prophecy appears to have come true, as a recent ad entitled the Real Romney, released by the pro-Obama Priorities USA Super PAC, demonstrates.

With Romney and Bain Capital, the objective was to make money, a steelworker named Pat Wells, who lost his job after a Bain intervention, says. Whether the companies they came in and worked with made money or not was irrelevant. Bain Capital always made money. If we lost, they made money. If we survived, they made money. It's as simple as that. He promised us the same things he's promising the United States. And he'll give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing. He'll take it all.