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Biden Visits Scranton, Pa., Childhood Home

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) shakes hands and poses for pictures after visiting his childhood home in Scranton, Penn., Sept. 1, 2008, (AP/Rich Schultz)

By Perry Bacon Jr.
SCRANTON, Penn. -- Describing his role in the Obama campaign, Sen. Joe Biden said on "60 Minutes" Sunday night "the thing I can do is, hopefully, go into Scranton and Wilmington and Sacramento and other places and say, 'I know the guy.'"

The Delaware senator didn't wait long to make good on that promise and tout his running mate in his hometown. Biden, who lived in Scranton until his family moved to Wilmington, Del., when he was 10, launched his first campaign swing on the Democratic ticket by returning to his boyhood home here.

"A lot of people say to me, 'What's Barack like -- what's he like, what's the deal, Joe,'" Biden said. "I promise you, my word as a Biden: if Barack grew up in our neighborhood like he did Kansas ... he would have been our friend."

The Delaware senator, apparently forgetting his running mate grew up in Hawaii, not Kansas, continued, "He would cover your back, he would be the guy who meets the standard ... That's Barack Obama. I promise you, his value set is the same."

That Biden stopped in Scranton is not, of course, just about nostalgia. The Obama campaign hopes Biden can help win over the older, non-college educated white voters in regions like Scranton who overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton over Obama during the primaries. Polls show Obama still lagging behind John Kerry's 2004 performance among some of these voters.

During the long run-up to the Pennsylvania primary earlier this year, Clinton constantly touted her Scranton roots, noting her father grew up in the city and that her family often went on vacation here as child. Biden echoed similar themes.

In an ad the Obama campaign released on the eve of his visit, the Delaware senator says, "Scranton is a place that never leaves you. It becomes part of your heart."

"It's good to be coming home and bringing home a friend," he says in the commercial, referring to Obama.

Upon arriving at 2446 N. Washington, the home Bidens' grandparents owned and where the senator's family lived when it was low on money during his childhood, Biden yelled, "This is my mom!" and hugged 91-year-old Jean Finnegan Biden, who lives with him in Wilmington but came to Scranton for the event.

"I am home now," Biden declared to a crowd of people standing in the street waving at him in this middle-class neighborhood, accompanied by his brother Jim, campaign aides, Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Bob Casey, who also grew up in this neighborhood.

He then walked into the home, now inhabited by Anne Kearns, who has lived here since 1962. Biden told stories of his life at the three-story blue house, recalling the men gathering to talk about sports and politics and how his mother told him to retaliate when he was punched as a young boy.

Kearns told the group that when she moved into the house her family found the words "Joe Biden was here" written on the wall of the third-floor bedroom that had been occupied by Biden's great aunt. She told the senator she had painted over his message but would be honored if he'd go up and sign his name again.

An aide handed him a Sharpie. With it, he wrote, "I am Home. Joe Biden. 9.1.08."

"If my father were here, he'd smack me," the candidate said.

Kearns said, "We won't paint over it this time."

Biden had been greeted at the airport here by old family friends, and other people who had known his family were in the backyard of the Kearns' home for a short event, where the senator spoke and took a few questions as a crowd of several dozen sat at picnic tables.

"I don't consider this political, I consider this coming home," Biden said, noting that he was trying to tone down the political aspects of the day, mindful of the situation in the Gulf Coast. "My mom and I are more pleased to be here than you'll ever know."

At the same time, in the question and answer session, he praised Obama's views on Iraq and blasted McCain, noting that the Iraqi government and the Bush administration were now discussing a timetable for U.S troops to leave Iraq. Obama proposed such a timetable early last year.

"Barack Obama was right and John McCain was wrong," Obama said.

Biden will attend fundraisers and campaign in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Obama aides said he will spend much of his time in Pennsylvania, along with Ohio and Michigan, looking to woo working class-voters in those key swing states.

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 1, 2008; 4:34 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Joe Biden  
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Not every legislator in Washington is 'more of the same.' Look at Biden's record. Look at his character and then decide whether he is someone you can trust and belive in to lead the country with Obama. A good reformer often needs an experienced hand to help with the changes. I don't fault Obama for choosing someone he could trust and someone we can trust too.

Posted by: Michele | September 2, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Typical of Democrats/Feminazis/Liberals, Biden promises one thing then does the opposite a minute later. What he describes as a non-political day turns into a McCain bashing diatribe. And the looney leftists cant see the hypocrisy. He wasn't in Scranton to recall old times, he was there to stump for NObama. To add insult to injury, he then threatens his "old friends" with retribution if they don't vote his way. Must have tippled a few before THAT speech! Not the kind of guy we should have standing a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Posted by: Paul Clements | September 2, 2008 6:02 AM | Report abuse

At the end of the day, the Sarah Palin saga gives us another glaring revelation into the judgment and decision making process of John McCain.

Then again...what else would you expect from someone who was 894th out of 899 members of his naval academy class. Would you feel comfortable with a doctor who was 5th from the bottom of his class operating on your loved one?

Posted by: John in DC | September 2, 2008 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Obama holds the flag of change and selects a Washington insider, which is really more of the same.

Obama's words are empty and mean nothing; he is another politician driven by the desire for power that is dishonest and will say or do whatever it takes to get elected.

The choice of Sarah palin, a woman that is a reformist and has taken her principles and beliefs into action proves that McCain is really an magent of change and he intends to change Washington and improve the government for the benefit of the people in our nation.

McCain/Palin represent true change!

Posted by: Manolete | September 2, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

biden needs to come forth with his Violence Against Women Act destruction has wrought upon fathers. Them Maybe Obama will begin to see past his blindness and hypocracy on fathers.

Posted by: Robert Gartner | September 2, 2008 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Go Joe!

Posted by: Becca | September 1, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I just want to second the post by phi above (or below if this shows up on top).

"'Barack Obama was right and John McCain was wrong,' Obama said."

Unless Obama has started talking in the third person, the wrong individual was credited for this statement.

Posted by: Jake | September 1, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Biden does look like he's enjoying himself - as well he should, he's earned this chance and has prepared himself well. The Obama Biden team is impressive - they're organized, consistent, professional - meanwhile, the mccain camp is chasin' their tails tryin' to stay ahead of the dirt that's flyin' from their unvetted unqualified trophy pick. The polls are showing that I'm not the only one thinking that way. O/B are up 8 today

"Before the Democratic convention, McCain enjoyed a 12-point advantage with independent voters, but now Obama leads among this group 43 percent to 37 percent. Obama's lead among women has also grown to 14 points (50 percent to 36 percent), and the Democrat maintained the lead he had before the convention among voters who supported Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries."

Just goes to show you - America really does appreciate competence.

Posted by: jb | September 1, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I think Biden is having the time of his life campaigning with and for Obama.
Really energized.
I think they make a good team and will do well working to get things back on track in this country.

Posted by: vwcat | September 1, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

BRISTOL PALIN was the kinda gal i liked in high school too!!!!!!!!!!

the right wing extreme prayed for it to rain on the DEM CONVENTION.. the weather was beautiful

God gave instead a hurricane for the REPUB CONVENTION

God also gave Palin a illegitimate grand baby!


see the father of BRISTOLS baby here



Posted by: EddienTexas | September 1, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Upon reflection - American voters will see that McCain's selection of Palin was just a short-sighted gimmick to dampen the Obama bounce from Denver -- and they will recognize that - sadly that move is indicative of the depth of McCain's wisdom.

McCain tried to play a cute trick on America.

American voters are grown-ups -- they know that the time for gimmicks is long past. As a consequence, on November 4th, Obama and Biden will sweep the Northeast along with Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, and Virginia. They will add Illinois and Florida and New Mexico and Colorado. Minnesota, Iowa and Misouri will squeak onboard. Then, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii will surge to the Democratic column.

That will give Obama/Biden about 350 electoral college votes and the White House.

McCain has just tricked himself out of the serious contention in 2008.

Bye bye.

Posted by: GandalftheGrey | September 1, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

don't like biden much. what a phony.

Posted by: steve jones | September 1, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

pathetic how candidates go to places with the weakest and oldest associations and claim their hearts have always belonged to those places.

Posted by: tommy bush | September 1, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

As a Kansas, I am proud to say that Barack Obama was raised in Hawaii.

Posted by: dc | September 1, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it was nice to see Joey. He stopped in and we refreshed his hairplugs. His new teeth and plugs look fantastic. Go get 'em Joey!

Obama/Biden '08

Posted by: Dr Wexler | September 1, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it was nice to see Joey. He stopped in and we refreshed his hairplugs. His new teeth and plugs look fantastic. Go get 'em Joey!

Obama/Biden '08

Posted by: Dr Wexler | September 1, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it was nice to see Joey. He stopped in and we refreshed his hairplugs. His new teeth and plugs look fantastic. Go get 'em Joey!

Obama/Biden '08

Posted by: Dr Wexler | September 1, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Is Obama's internal polling showing that he is having that much trouble holding PA? Looking at the way they are using Biden (look, he was born in PA!) it seems likely. This is not a good sign.

Posted by: Mike | September 1, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

"'Barack Obama was right and John McCain was wrong,' Obama said."

I believe that should be "Biden said."

Posted by: phi | September 1, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

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