When I heard that Vice President Joe Biden was making an unannounced stop in Roanoke today – the day before the election — I was instantly reminded of . . . Dan Quayle.
But not for the reason some of you cynics out there might think.
On the day before the election in 1988, Quayle made a campaign stop in Roanoke, holding a rally at the airport.
The reason for his visit was somewhat of a mystery.
Virginia in 1988 was nowhere close to being a swing state. In any case, the Bush-Quayle ticket that year was well on its way to victory over Michael Dukakis.
Nor were there any state or local races that a Quayle visit might have helped promote. Democrat Chuck Robb faced only token opposition for the U.S. Senate (remember Maurice Dawkins) and Democrat Jim Olin of Roanoke was well-ensconced in the House of Representatives.
So why was Quayle coming to Roanoke, we wondered? And on the day before the election? Surely there were more important places he could have been, right?
I don’t think anyone ever officially said, but I remember the press travelling with Quayle that day informed us locals that they’d been told the reason: Roanoke was a safe place to “hide” Quayle, who had not necessarily made a name for himself as a great campaigner. (You might remember he was often tagged with the phrase “deer in the headlights.”)
Now it’s 24 years later, and Virginia very much a swing state — so much so that on the day before the election, Mitt Romney was in Lynchburg, and Biden made his announced stop in Roanoke to buy pizza.
I was at both of those events. I suspect I might be the only one.
– Dwayne Yancey
For those who want to see another photo of Biden’s motorcade downtown today, here ’tis: