Vice President Biden wows Sussex Democrats

LEWES ­— The annual Sussex County Democratic Jamboree is a chance for politicians and civilians to socialize and celebrate.

It’s often seen as the unofficial kickoff to election season, with candidates frequently taking advantage of the setting to announce their campaigns.

It’s a commemoration of the Democratic Party with participants enjoying the atmosphere at Cape Henlopen State Park as they plan for the future.

New Castle County Register of Wills Ciro Poppiti, Wilmington Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey Walker and Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Kathy McGuiness were expected to announce their plans to seek the office of lieutenant governor. New Castle County Sheriff Trinidad Navarro was expected to share more details of his run for insurance commissioner.

But with no planned gubernatorial or congressional revelations, the focus was as much on the party and the election as a whole.

Then Joe Biden stole the show.

The vice president arrived, unexpectedly, around 3 p.m., an hour after the event began. Six big SUVs pulled up outside the pavilion, immediately catching the eyes of the audience.

“That must be Joe!” someone said.

Indeed, it was.

Vice President Biden stepped out of his car, flanked by security, and the crowd flocked to him.

People gathered around the vice president, eager to shake his hand, take a photo or just catch a glimpse of him.

A chant of “Joe, Joe, Joe!” began in the crowd, followed a few minutes later by a cry from a man extorting Mr. Biden to run for president.

After individually greeting familiar and new faces alike for 15 minutes, he addressed the crowd.

Taking the microphone and standing on top of a picnic table, Vice President Biden spoke to the hundreds huddled around him.

“Hey, everybody, it’s good to be here,” he said to applause. He spoke for about 10 minutes, with much of his oration centered on his son Beau, who died in May of brain cancer.

“I came here because Beau’d want me to come,” he said, briefly getting choked up.

Beau Biden attended his first Democratic Jamboree in 1973, when he was 4 years old and was still recovering from a car crash that took the life of his mother, Joe Biden’s first wife, the vice president told the crowd Saturday.

People all throughout Delaware stepped up to help take care of the Biden family in the wake of that tragedy and again this year, Vice President Biden said.

Beau Biden loved the people of the state, he said, thanking the audience members for showing their love in return these past months.

“You were there for me in ways that absolutely blew me away,” he said.

He took the opportunity during his speech to recognize several other politicians in attendance, including Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Attorney General Matt Denn.

The vice president, who is said to be seriously considering a presidential run, did not touch on the subject during his visit and dismissed a reporter’s question about his future plans.

During his speech, he could not resist cracking a few jokes, including one about how he missed attending the Delaware State Fair but knew he could not go because of the security concerns a visit would cause.

He finished his address to the audience with a simple statement.

“I love you, thank you,” he said, as audience members echoed his words right back.

From there, he began a slow walk to the waiting fleet of SUVs. Despite the best efforts of his security team, Vice President Biden continually stopped to greet people and take photos with them.

In the end, it took him half an hour to walk 30 feet because of the constant hugs and compliments he handed out.

Even as the car drove away, Vice President Biden couldn’t resist looking out the window and waving, a big smile on his face.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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