Biden shows softer side at elementary school

October 18, 2012

NORTH LAS VEGAS — After giving a charged-up speech to union supporters during which he called Mitt Romney's plans for the country "etch-a-sketchy," Joe Biden made a quick detour to a place where politics is all hugs and high-fives.

The students and teachers of Matt Kelly Elementary, a predominantly African American school, were waiting for Biden on an asphalt basketball court and shouted "Biden! Biden!" as the VP walked up in his blue jacket and slacks.

"Oh my goodness," Biden said as he approached the students. A couple of teachers greeted Biden first, and he posed for pictures with them.

Then he said to the students: "Hey, everybody here going to college?!"

Some children who looked to be 5 or 6 years old pressed close to Biden and hugged his legs.

One youngster, a boy who looked to be 8 or 9, said: "Can you tell Barack Obama something for me?"

"Sure," Biden said.

"Can you tell him to come here?" the boy said.

"Well he's back East now," Biden said, but indicated he'd pass the message on.

Biden tried to move on to the next cluster of very excited children. "Oh no, I can't move," Biden said. "I've got someone stuck to my hip."

A teacher came up to Biden, describing herself as a supporter and told him he was great in the debate. Biden kissed her cheek. She said loudly, "Vice President Biden kissed me on the cheek!"

"My wife's a teacher," Biden said.

"Thanks for letting me come to the playground," Biden said, after picking up three girls one by one. "I wish I could play basketball."

As Biden prepared to leave, the children were still hugging him. "I wish my constituents liked me as much," he said. "God love it!"

"I can't pick you all up. I can't pick you all up," he said as he prepared to leave.

Krissah Thompson began writing for The Washington Post in 2001. She has covered local businesses, traveled to El Salvador and Guatemala to tell stories of immigrants’ connections to their home countries and reported from the newsroom’s Prince George’s County bureau. More recently, she has written about civil rights, race and politics.
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Krissah Thompson · October 18, 2012