Vice President Joe Biden invoked a slavery image Aug. 14 when he told a largely Black crowd in Danville, Va. that Republican policies to loosen regulations on banks are a way to “put y’all back in chains.”

Biden was speaking at a campaign stop on Aug. 14 when he attacked Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s pledge to roll back financial industry reforms instituted under President Obama.

“Look at what they value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing. said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks write their own rules — unchain Wall Street,” Biden said. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

The remarks to the crowd at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, at least half of which was African American according to reporters covering the event, drew an immediate rebuke from the Romney campaign, which said that the Obama campaign had reached a “new low.”

“His campaign has resorted to diversions and distractions, to demagoguing and defaming others,” Romney said in Ohio later that evening, according to reports. “It’s an old game in politics; what’s different this year is that the president is taking things to a new low.”

Romney press secretary Andrea Saul also reacted. She said in a statement that Obama needs to speak on whether or not he agrees with Biden’s statement. Both Obama and Biden, however, stood by the remarks, saying the vice president was just rehashing what Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have said previously.

“I am told when I made that comment earlier today in Danville, Va., the Romney campaign put out a Tweet …went on the air, went on the airwaves saying, ‘Biden was outrageous in saying’ — I think I said, instead of unshackled, unchained — ‘outrageous to say that!” Biden reportedly said at a campaign event later that day in Wytheville, Va.

“The last time these guys unshackled the economy, to use their term, they put the middle class in shackles,” he continued. “That’s how we got where we are.”