WILMINGTON, Del.--After climbing into a taxi outside Wilmington's Amtrak station just now--I'm flying out to St. Louis with the Obama campaign--the first thing I did, naturally, was ask my cab driver about the depot's most famous customer: Joe Biden.
Have you ever seen the senator in person? I said, assuming he had. Biden never fails to mention--in what's become stump shorthand for his blue-collar roots--that he rides the train home from Washington every night the Senate is in session.
I wasn't disappointed. "All the time," said Calvin Peters, a wide grin spreading across his face. "Just last night, in fact. Sometimes I see him at the 7-Eleven, sometimes he's shopping at the grocery store. At the station, he talks to the cops or even the other cab drivers. And he always makes sure to say hello to Mr. Chen, who owns the Presto! Cafe."
So I'm guessing you're going to watch tonight's debate? "Oh, yeah," said the 29-year old. "Absolutely. I can't wait." When I asked who was going to win, however, Peters refused to venture a prediction. "I just want to see Sarah be Sarah," he said. "You know, you read about her on the blogs and watch people talk about her on TV. But I'm just gonna wait until tonight and see. No judgments." He paused--and then started cracking up. "I hope it's as hilarious as Tina Fey on SNL." He was still laughing.
Having just outed himself as an Obama-Biden partisan, Peters continued. "Biden, man, he can just sit back and let her hang herself. 'Next question!'" Seems unlikely, I offered. After all, the guy can't stop himself from speaking--and misspeaking. "But that's what I like about him. He speaks his mind. I'm sure he won't be able to help himself tonight, but that's just Joe. It's his appeal." Whether voters who don't know Biden from the train station and the 7-Eleven agree--well, that may be a different story.
As we were pulling up to the Marriot Courtyard Downtown, Peters smiled and handed me his card. "It's too bad I never got a picture with him," he said, absent-mindedly. I told him that the senator would be back in Wilmington tomorrow to address his son's National Guard unit before it ships out to Iraq. "Really? I'll have to bring my camera," said Peters. "Before it's too late."