WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden, who is known for making verbal gaffes, suggested on Thursday that Republican "bullets" were aimed at his campaign audience during an appearance in the swing state of Nevada.
Speaking to a crowd in Las Vegas, Biden said his opponents, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were "decent men" and good fathers with a vision for the country that was vastly different from the one offered by Biden and President Barack Obama.
"Ryan has written a book called 'The Young Guns' with two other fellas, members of the House (of Representatives), Republican leaders in the House," Biden said, according to a poll report from the event.
"Unfortunately the bullets are aimed at you."
His remark was in response to an audience member who had shouted, "they have guns with no bullets," according to a campaign aide.
A spokesman for Ryan called the comment an ugly attack.
"Today's over-the-top rhetoric by Vice President Biden is disappointing, but not all that surprising," spokesman Brendan Buck said in an email.
"In the absence of a vision or plan to move the country forward, the vice president is left only with ugly political attacks beneath the dignity of the office he occupies."
A spokeswoman for Biden's campaign said the vice president was not speaking literally.
"The vice president's exchange with an audience member today was clearly a reference to how the policies discussed in Paul Ryan's book, 'Young Guns,' would devastate the middle class," spokeswoman Amy Dudley said in an email.
"Given that people don't assume that Paul Ryan is literally a gun, it probably makes sense not to assume that Joe Biden was speaking literally about bullets," she said.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)