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Joe Biden talks Delaware’s sandwiches, filibuster

Ordering lunch for him and the president and answering questions from gathering media, Biden visits Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, founded in Wilmington Delaware, on its grand opening day on 18th Street NW. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Joe Biden may be vice president of the United States, but he was all Delaware when he walked into the new Washington location of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on Thursday morning.

“This is going to settle, once and for all, the best sandwich in America is out of Wilmington, Delaware,” he told reporters. “I’m bringing one back for the president. No more of this stuff about Chicago and Philly and New York. This settles it.”

Delaware’s biggest booster and former senator only made one quick detour into serious politics: When asked (prior to today’s vote) if he supported Harry Reid’s threat to eliminate Senate filibusters on judicial and executive branch nominees, Biden answered, “Yes, I do.” Asked to elaborate, Biden pivoted back to sandwich diplomacy: “It means they will learn to eat at Capriotti’s.”

In a town full of harried workaholics and takeout sandwiches, Biden’s appearance made the shop opening a bona fide event. Three of the Washington Nationals’ racing presidents (George, Abe and Teddy) bounced on the sidewalk in front of the M Street storefront as crowds began to gather. Then Biden’s motorcade pulled to a stop and he launched into his unabashedly promotional sales pitch.

Biden is a decades-long fan of the sandwich chain, which was founded in 1976 in Wilmington’s Little Italy, quickly spread to Delmarva beach towns, and now has almost 100 franchises in 13 states. Biden had Capriotti’s cater a 2012 debate prep session and an inaugural lunch and you have to give him this: The man knows his sandwiches.

“We don’t call them hoagies in Delaware, we call them subs,” he explained. The only thing, he conceded, that even comes close to Capriotti’s is a Philly Steak sandwich. “Just compete. Compete. Not win.” He’s a fan of hot peppers “but not everybody understands that. You know what I mean?”

Vice President Joe Biden stopped by his favorite sandwich shop Thursday, but he needed a little help with the bill. It's the best thing we've seen all day. (The Washington Post)

And so he was on top of it Thursday. “I’m ready, man! The president’s waiting. I’m having lunch with him today.” He moved quickly to the counter, where he ordered two medium Italians (one with hot peppers; the other with the peppers on the side, no onions), one large Italian and one large Bobbie, Capriotti’s best-selling turkey, cranberry and stuffing sub. The total: $56.25.

Biden reached into his pocket and pulled out two $20s and a $10, then turned to his personal aide: “You got $10?” When the owners offered to throw in the Bobbie for free, Biden turned them down flat.

“I’ve been going to Capriotti’s in Union Street for the last 40 years. I’ve had to pay every time I’ve gone. This is no time to change. In Delaware, you pay. It’s simple.”

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Emily Yahr · November 21, 2013

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