Vice President Biden dropped in on Washington D.C.'s first Costco Thursday. He was greeted by CEO Craig Jelinek and co-founder Jim Sinegal, both of whom attended a grand opening ceremony for the store earlier in the morning.
The vice president flashed his Costco card as he walked through the doors to loud cheers. Employee Ivey Stewart handled a cart for Biden, who stopped frequently for hugs and photos.
"In all honesty, I didn't have my own card, Jill wouldn't let me have one," he said. "I went to get my wife's card, and she said, 'No, No, get your own card.'"
Biden's cart held, among other things, flowers, children's books, fire logs, a 32-inch Panasonic TV and a large apple pie. The books, he said, were for a Delaware charity that his wife, Jill, had started. He said he picked titles based on "things I know my grandkids like."
Biden did a loop of nearly the entire store, including bakery and frozen foods.
He spent some time looking at watches, including one that cost $1,200, and he put in a call to his daughter, Ashley, saying he needed to "get some guidance." He ultimately bought a watch as a gift, but not that one.
Biden also ate several Costco food samples and appeared to enjoy them. (Who wouldn't?)
But he turned down employees who tried to lure him to the tire department.
"Hey man, I don't need tires," he said. "I don't drive anymore."
The vice president called on Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, saying that "consumer confidence is growing, the last thing we need to do is dash that."
He said that he'd talked to people around the store and that "all the people you meet and see... don't need to see their taxes go up."
Asked about whether he was optimistic about "fiscal cliff" negotiations, Biden said, "I am."
Before leaving, he placed a call on Stewart's phone. The pool couldn't hear the conversation, but Stewart broke into tears and got a hug from Biden.
A White House official says the Bidens have been Costco members in the past. They reactivated their memberships Wednesday, paying a $55 membership fee and receiving new cards.
Susan Brotman, the wife of Costco co-founder Jeff Brotman is an Obama bundler who, according to final campaign finance reports, bundled $508,646 in contributions for the president's campaign.
Sinegal, a longtime Democratic donor, spoke at the Democratic National Convention, defending President Obama's economic record. He called Biden's visit "fantastic" and said the company was flattered, "as you can see he draws quite a bit of attention."
In general, the donations of Costco employees skew heavily Democratic. But data suggests that if anything, Costco's shoppers nationally tilt Republican, but not overwhelmingly.
The store is in Fort Lincoln, near the border with Maryland.