Barely 24 hours before the first presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden inadvertently said on Tuesday that the middle class has been "buried" during the last four years.
AFP reported that Republicans said Biden's gaffe marked a stunning admission five weeks away from the November 6 election.
"How they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried in the last four years," Biden, addressing supporters in North Carolina, was quoted as having said in reference to the period he and Obama have been leading the nation.
AFP noted that the White House quickly sought to douse the flames, saying Biden was talking about how President George W. Bush's policies continued to hurt the middle class deep into Obama's term.
Biden himself offered up his own correction in a tweet from his official Twitter feed which read, “The middle class was buried by the policies that Romney and Ryan have supported.”
But the Republicans, who argue that the middle class has been hard hit by four years of an Obama economy, let fly in the blink of an eye.
"Agree with @JoeBiden, the middle class has been buried the last 4 years, which is why we need a change in November," said a tweet from Mitt Romney's official Twitter account quoted by AFP.
Romney's running mate Paul Ryan issued a scathing response.
"Unemployment has been above eight percent for 43 months. Our economy is limping along right now. Vice President Biden, just today, said that the middle class, over the last four years, has been 'buried.' We agree," he was quoted as having told a rally in Iowa.
"That means we need to stop digging by electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States,” he added.
Republicans suggested it would be an easy punchline for Romney during Wednesday's prime-time debate.
Obama currently leads the national race by five points in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll and in most key battlegrounds.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll out Monday gave Obama a slimmer 49 to 47 percent lead, but, tellingly, likely voters in swing states sided with the president by 52 to 41 percent.
A CNN poll out on Tuesday showed Romney in a deep hole with Hispanic voters, who make up the country's largest ethnic minority demographic but who support Obama 70-26 percent.
Marc Zell, the Chair of the Republican Party in Israel, expressed hope in an interview with Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that the debates would shift voter opinion to the Republican campaign, as Obama's foreign policy missteps will overshadow domestic promises.