I served as the pool print reporter for Vice President Joe Biden’s “unscheduled” visit to the Star City, from his arrival at the Roanoke Regional Airport to Benny Marconi’s to the Obama For America campaign office.
Here’s what I filed:
Air Force 2 touched down at the Roanoke Regional Airport at 3:25 p.m.
Anne Holton, daughter of former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton and wife of former governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine waited at the bottom of the ladder.
At 3:26, Vice President Joe Biden emerged with wife Jill Biden, Kaine and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner. They descended the ladder and greeted Holton before getting into a car.
The vice president’s motorcade headed south on Interstate 581 into the heart of downtown Roanoke, stopping on Campbell Avenue.
Biden entered Benny Marconi’s, a locally owned pizzeria known for its large slices, at 3:49 p.m. to applause from the people gathered there. Warner and Kaine followed him in. Biden greeted the pizzeria’s patrons, shaking hands and posing for photos.
Warner introduced himself to a man wearing red flannel, who responded, “I know who you are!”
Biden then put his arm around the shoulders of that man and the woman sitting next to them and talked to them for a bit. The man in red flannel laughed heartily at something Biden said that went unheard by your pool reporter.
Biden then glanced over the counter at a cheese pizza, saying, “Look at that size of that pie! Holy moley!”
More after the jump:
He added, “Whoa! That is one big pizza, man.”
Biden looked at the stack of three more boxes and exclaimed, “Holy moley!”
He then said, “That’s the biggest damn box of pizza I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Biden picked up one of the pizza boxes above his head to cheers from the crowd.
“I never saw a pizza box this been, and I’m a pizza guy,” Biden said.
The vice president, Kaine and Warner then walked out of the pizzeria. Biden walked down the street a little bit and stopped to talk to a group of people in front of the Frogurt store and Nawab Indian Restaurant.
Biden said, “I’ll tell you what – don’t forget to vote!”
Members of the crowd chanted “Four more years! Four more years!”
Then a woman said “Thank you for coming to Roanoke! Thank you for coming to Roanoke!” and he replied, “Oh, my pleasure.”
At 3:58 p.m. he returned to the motorcade, which proceeded to the Obama For America campaign office on Norfolk Avenue, next to the train tracks.
Inside, about 75 volunteers and staffers waited for his arrival.
At 4:04 p.m. Biden entered the room, carrying three pizza boxes, to loud cheers. Warner and Kaine followed carrying two pizza boxes each.
Biden said, “Hey folks, we are the pizza delivery boys!”
He made a short stump speech, portions of which follow. He delivered portions of the speech standing on a chair.
“Jill and I came by, and we came by with a couple of folks you all know, just to say thank you. We’re down to the last hours here. You have produced such incredible, incredible public leaders who are Democrats, two of them with me here.”
At this point he pulled Holton up front to make sure the crowd saw her there.
Biden said, “Tim and I understand, as Mark, that women rule in our families.”
More from his speech: “We just wanted to say, thank you. Thank you so very much.”
“You hear it from Barack, you hear it from me, you hear it from all of us everytime we’re in the state. But we win this state, we win the election! Equally important, Tim Kaine will be your next U.S. senator!”
“I’ve been campaigning all around the country. I don’t know who said it, but this is no malarkey: We genuinely feel very good about the campaign. I’ve spent an awful lot of time in what we call the firewall, Ohio and Iowa, Wisconsin. We’re going to win all three of those states.”
“We have a chance not just to win but to make a real statement about unifying this country again.”
“The two guys I’m with here today, are guys that, we’re all – I’m elevating myself – we’re all cut from the same mold. We’re all able to work across the aisle. My career in the senate, I got an awful lot done, and I think Mark would tell you, I’ve still got an awful lot of friends there, Republicans and Democrats. That’s the hallmark of how the three of us have worked. That’s why get on so well together.”
“When this election is over, we’ve got to come together in the same way. I’ve watched the president bring everyone together in the aftermath of Sandy, the storm.”
Biden said he’s been on conference calls every day talking with governors in the states that have been affected by Sandy. He said they’ve been willing to work together, regardless of party affiliation.
“Let me tell you something. My mom used to have an expression: ‘Joe, out of everything bad, something good will come if you look hard enough. I’m telling you: It reminded me of why I got involved in public life in the first place.”
“There’s a crisis. Americans have always, always, always, always done best when they come together in a crisis. I look at these last couple of years as an aberration, and I think the fever is going to break.”
Biden said President Obama has supported “principled compromise.”
“That’s who the president is, he’s principled.”
“That’s why Virginia in particular is so important. You are a perfect state. You are a purple state.”
A volunteer shouted “We’re blue” to cheers from the crowd.
Biden continued: “This is a state that represents every aspect of America. This is one of the most beautiful states in America. The southwest is a lot different than suburban Washington. My point is you’ve demonstrated we can come together.”
“I got elected when I was 29. I was labeled as optimistic then. I am more optimistic – my word as a Biden — I am more optimistic about America’s chances in the world today than I have been in my whole career.”
“Look, Look, you will make a gigantic statement. Virginia makes a gigantic statement,” along with the other swing states.
Tim Kaine then got up to speak, saying that Virginia had been ignored in presidential elections for years. He said that Obama changed that in 2008.
Kaine said: “It is much better to live in a state that’s a battleground because everyone’s got to take you seriously, because I think Virginians deserve to be taken seriously.”
More from Biden:
“The hardest thing to do is to put your name on the line for someone. And you guys have put your name on the line for me.”
A woman in crowd said: “You’re worth it.”
“It is a gigantic commitment for you to say I vouch for this guy. I vouch for my president. I really mean it. I genuinely mean it. Because with all the carpetbombing going on, especially going after my guy, it’s one thing for someone to turn on the TV and see some scurrilous ad.” He reached out and put his hands around the face of an older female volunteer. “It’s another for you to call them on the phone or knock on their door and say, I know this guy.”
Biden then suggested that the room break into smaller groups to have their photos taken with him.
Local and traveling press was escorted out of the campaign office.
Biden left the campaign office at 4:37 p.m. The motorcade departed at 4:39 p.m.