Supporters listen to singer John Mellencamp perform before Vice President… (Matt Rourke / Associated…)
RICHMOND, Va. – Joe Biden has embraced the role of attack dog throughout the 2012 campaign, starting with a tough speech on the auto industry rescue in Toledo, Ohio, in March.
But in his final event before election day here in the heart of Virginia, and perhaps the last time he’ll campaign for himself after four decades in federal office, the vice president harked back to his younger days.
“I got elected when I was a 29-year-old kid. I was characterized as a young idealist,” Biden told about 1,000 supporters on a chilly Monday night. “You read about me now in the major press, I’m always referred to as the White House optimist. … Well, I am more optimistic today, and I mean this sincerely -- my word as a Biden -- I am more optimistic today about the future of this country than I was when I got elected as a 29-year-old kid.”
INTERACTIVE MAP: Electoral votes, battleground states
Of course, the speech was not without the usual attack lines on the Republican ticket. But Biden also expressed confidence that, in a second Obama term, both parties could work together to confront the challenges facing the nation.
“It’s time, it’s time we come together and realize the great potential of this great country. It’s time to replace unyielding ideology with principled compromise. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe most Democrats and Republicans are prepared to do just that,” he said.
As with President Obama on Monday, Biden’s final rally featured a star attraction. For the president, it was Bruce Springsteen. For Joe Biden it was John Mellencamp, as well as Mellencamp's girlfriend, Meg Ryan, who watched from a photo riser.
After his fifth and final stop, Biden returned to his home state of Delaware so he could vote in person early Tuesday -- unlike his running mate, who already voted in Chicago.
The vice president is likely then to make a stop in a battleground state before arriving in Chicago to join the president, in what the campaign hopes will be a victory rally.