US Vice President Joe Biden, throwing punches as a warrior for the middle class, plunged into the 2012 election race Thursday, hailing President Barack Obama as a man with “steel in his spine.”

Obama meanwhile launched his own political barbs, mocking Republicans who oppose his energy plans as “naysayers” on a day his reelection campaign stepped up a notch with the release of a laudatory documentary on his presidency.

Biden praised Obama for rescuing US auto companies with an unpopular $80 billion bailout opposed by many Republicans, but which has nursed America’s iconic industry back to health.

And standing before union workers in the crucial swing state of Ohio, he personally slammed leading Republican candidate Mitt Romney for writing a 2008 New York Times article headlined “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”

“But the guy I work with, every day, the president, didn’t flinch. This is a man with steel in his spine,” Biden said, saying Obama rescued the American auto sector even though it was unpopular.

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