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On Twitter and video, Biden steps up role for Dems

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Photo - Vice President Joe Biden gives a thumbs up after speaking at the American Association of Community Colleges' 94th Annual Convention in Washington, Monday, April 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Vice President Joe Biden gives a thumbs up after speaking at the American Association of Community Colleges' 94th Annual Convention in Washington, Monday, April 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is ramping up his role for the Democratic Party, putting his political weight behind a voter-expansion effort and rebooting his dormant Twitter handle just in time for the midterm elections.

A video released Monday by the Democratic National Committee puts Biden front and center in the Democratic pushback against voting restrictions advocated by Republicans and their allies in states across the country. The long-running debate between Democrats and Republicans on such laws takes on outsize importance in an election year in which turnout among Democrats could be decisive in determining whether Republicans can seize the Senate and strengthen their House majority.

"I've got to tell you if someone had said to me 10 years ago that I'd have to make a pitch for voting rights today, I would have said you've got to be kidding," Biden said.

In a separate announcement, Biden announced that he was bringing back the @JoeBiden Twitter account, which has been mostly inactive since just after Obama and Biden were re-elected in 2012. Unlike President Barack Obama's Twitter handle, @BarackObama, which is run by the outside group Organizing for Action, the DNC has control of Biden's self-titled Twitter account, while the vice president's office tweets from the official @VP account.

"Dusting off the Twitter handle for a big midterm election year. Let's get to it, folks!" Biden wrote in his inaugural tweet of 2014, signing it "Joe" to indicate he wrote it himself.

Biden's efforts reflect a stepped-up presence by the vice president on behalf of Democrats as the party girds for a difficult election year. Biden has said he plans to campaign in more than 100 races in 2014, and has already started fundraising for Democratic campaign committees and the party's candidates.

While campaigning hard in the midterms is an expected duty for a vice president, for Biden, keeping an active political profile has an added benefit should he choose to run again for president in 2016, which Biden has said he will consider.

In the meantime, Democrats are seeking to minimize the damage to their congressional ranks this year despite Obama's low approval ratings and a tendency by Democrats to turn out in lower numbers at the polls in midterm years.

Calling out the Supreme Court for defanging the Voting Rights Act in a ruling last year, Biden warned that states this year are considering 50 separate bills to restrict voting rights, while 11 states have introduced legislation requiring photo ID at polls or strengthen existing voter ID laws.

"It's time to stand up and to fight back," Biden says in the video, which directs supporters to a DNC website.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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