Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times was the pool reporter for Vice President Joe Biden’s unannounced visit to Democratic headquarters in Roanoke. (Mason Adams was the pool reporter for Biden’s visit to a pizza shop on the City Market; you can find Mason’s account here.)
Here’s Memoli’s report:
Will lead with the second OTR first, at the local field office, where VPOTUS spoke at length about the campaign and about bringing the nation together after the election. Calls the last four years an “aberration” and says the fever will break when the Democrats win. Talks fiscal cliff, said what’s needed is “principled compromise,” and POTUS is “principled.”
Scene: VP arrived carrying three large pizzas from Benny Marconi’s, the first stop. “We are the pizza delivery boys,” he announces to the jam-packed room, which erupted when he arrived. Joined again by Sen. Warner and Gov. Kaine.
“Jill and I came with a couple folks you know. Just to say thank you. We’re down to literally the last hours here.”
“I know you’ve heard it from Barack, you hear it from me, you hear it from all of us. … We win this state we win this election. And equally important, Tim Kaine will be your next U.S. senator”
Says he’s been campaigning all over, and: “This is no malarkey. We genuinely feel good about the campaign. I’ve spent an awful lot of time in what they call the firewall – Ohio and Iowa and Wisconsin. We’re going to win all three of those states. We’re going to win Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado. We have a chance not just to win but actually to make a real statement about unifying this country.”
Lumping himself with Warner and Kaine, he said all three of us have been able to “walk across the aisle and work with the opposition. And I’m going to say something presumptuous. My career in the Senate, I got an awful lot done. And I think Mark would tell you I still have an awful lot of friends up there who are Republicans and Democrats. It’s been the hallmark of how the three of us have worked that’s why we get on so well together.
“And 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.”
Says his mom had an expression, out of everything bad something good will come. “And I’m telling you, it reminded me of why I got involved in public life in the first place.” As a senator, VP said he always worked with Republicans like John Warner. And compares that to offers of help from “my governor,” Jack Markell, a Democrat, to Chris Christie, a Republican. Mentions Bloomberg in list of public officials, mentioning he endorsed the president.
“Americans have always done best when they’ve come together in a crisis. And I look at these last couple years, the last four years as sort of an aberration. Because I think the fever’s going to break here.”
Praises Warner for trying to bring Democrats and Republicans together on the fiscal cliff. Shares that Warner told him on the way here about a comment from the Australian foreign minister, and Warner then spoke to share the line: “We’re one budget deal away from American preeminence for the next 25 years.”
“And it’s true!” Biden said. “It’s literally true. It’s going to take principled compromise. That’s what the president is. He’s principled.”
Adds: “It’s time to put this hard-edged ideology behind us.”
Concludes that is why Virginia is so important. “You are a purple state,” he said. Some in the crowd answer back: “Blue!” Biden answers by standing on a chair. Virginia “represents every aspect of America. … The southwest is a lot different than suburban Washington. My point is, you’ve demonstrated we can come together.
“I know I’m always characterized in the press as the White House optimist. Like I’m the new guy in town. As my grandfather would say, like I’m the guy who fell off the turnip truck. … I am more optimistic, my word as a Biden, I am more optimistic about America’s chance in the world today than I have been my whole career.
You will make a gigantic statement. Virginia makes a gigantic statement. Ohio will make a gigantic statement. Florida – all tossup states. … They represent very different constituencies. The same with Colorado …
Then introduces Kaine.
Kaine jokes that, “I don’t trust my luck enough to stand up on that chair.”
The former gov says he wants to thank the president and vice president. “We can thank them for a lot. But the thing I want to thank them for most especially is, you know, for a long time nobody took Virginia seriously in presidential politics, after LBJ’s win in ’64. Democrats didn’t take us seriously. Democrats didn’t come because why bother. Republicans didn’t come because they didn’t need to. We weren’t on the main stage in a presidential year. We were in the shadows. If you wanted to know what happened in a presidential election, you stayed up and figured out what was happening with hanging chads in Florida or some crazy secretary of state doing something in Ohio.” Thanked them for paying as much if not more attention on Virginia in 2012 as 2008. Thanked volunteers for their effort especially in the “brave new world” after Citizens United. Says they will send a message that there “aren’t enough zeroes in the world” on a check to decide.
Biden comes back and says he wants to shake hands with everyone in the room, but there isn’t enough time for individual photos like he usually does. Asks if they can do groups of 10-12 at a time.
Wins over the group even more by saying the hardest thing a person can do is put themselves on the line for someone else, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. Hugs one older woman as he makes the point, producing some “awws.”
Earlier the VP stopped for pizza at Benny Marconi’s. The pies are huge — the VP was told they weighed 8 pounds each.
It was a small pizza shop, with three booths along the left wall and a few high tables. A young crowd that was thrilled when the VP arrived, erupting again when Warner and Kaine entered. Pool was in the back near the stove and couldn’t hear most of the conversations, but he was hugging, shaking hands and taking photos per usual. One young man introduces himself as being from Wilmington.
He came back to pick up his pizzas. “That’s the biggest box of pizza I’ve ever seen in my life!” he says. He tells the worker that he knows they were already paid for, but hands him a $20 bill.
VP held all three pies at first before asking for some help. He lifted one giant box over his head to walk out, with the pool, to one of the press vans.
Speaking to the pool after struggling to fit the pie in the van: “Guys, I didn’t plan on the box being that big. I don’t know how you are going to do that.”
In a bit of a wistful farewell at the end of the campaign, he refers to many local food stops in the past few months. “I keep eating the stuff and you guys never get to have any. So thanks-thanks guys. I tell ya- you know- it’s like you know: you go on a vacation and you come home and bring your kid a sweatshirt. ‘Is that all there is a sweatshirt?’ (Points to the pizza box sitting in the van) All you get this time is a pizza- What the hell.”
As he headed back to his car he detours to greet a big group outside, again taking photos and dispensing hugs. One woman says to tell POTUS that they love him, and he says he will. He urges them to not forget to vote.