SCRANTON, Pa. – Five years after they joined forces as a presidential ticket, President Obama made a rare joint appearance with Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign-style rally that offered a hint of what Biden's possible future run for the White House could look like.
The setting was Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pa., the final stop of Obama’s two-day bus tour, which highlighted the president’s proposals to make college more affordable.
Speaking first, appearing at home behind a lectern adorned with the seal of the president, Biden said the working-class community helped shape his views, such as his “absolute conviction that if you give ordinary folks a fighting chance, they can and do do extraordinary things.”
He then introduced Obama, who said he loved the city because, “if it weren’t for Scranton, I wouldn’t have Joe Biden.”
Obama called it a “special day” for him and Biden, noting that it was on Aug. 23, 2008, that he announced Biden as his running mate. That was “the best decision that I ever made politically,” he said.
“Because I love this guy. And he’s got heart. And he cares about people. And he’s willing to fight for what he believes in. And he’s got some Scranton in him,” Obama said.
“I just want all of you to know that I am lucky to have Joe, not just as a running mate but more importantly as a friend, and we love his family and I am so blessed to be here, and thank you, Joe, for saying yes five years ago.”
Biden, who ran twice for the presidency – including in 2008 against Obama – has made no secret that he is considering a final run in 2016. Next month, he’ll travel to the key early nominating state of Iowa for a political event that has long drawn ambitious Democratic politicians.
But Biden faces a significant obstacle in Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has also drawn plaudits from Obama for her work as his secretary of State.
The Republican National Committee on Friday called the rally the “Biden 2016 Kickoff Tour.”
“With President Obama looking more like a lame duck every day with little to show for his time in office, Biden is finding it even harder to conceal his own presidential ambitions,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “And with the president appearing at Biden’s side, it looks like there’s at least two leading presidential candidates running for the Obama third term.”
Biden’s most immediate concern, though, is the health of his son, Delaware Atty. Gen. Beau Biden. The vice president has been out of the public eye for the last two weeks to be at Beau's side as he underwent tests and a medical procedure at a Houston hospital this week to address what was described as an episode of “disorientation and weakness” during a recent family vacation.
Biden told the crowd in Scranton that his son was now back home in Wilmington, Del.
“He’s doing well. He’s anxious to get back to work,” he said.