During an Election Eve sprint through the crucial state of Virginia on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise stop at Benny Marconi's pizzeria in downtown Roanoke, VA. He greeted patrons, posed for photos, and bought three of the house's signature pies, which feature giant-size slices. Each cardboard pizza box is about the size of a coffee table, and weighs eight pounds. Like President Obama, the Vice President has picked up pizzas for campaign field office workers during trips around the US, and these pies were headed for an Obama for America office, too. But Benny Marconi's especially impressed the Vice Eater in Chief, who ordered cheese pies.
"Look at the size of that pie! Holy moley!" Biden said as he stood at the counter, grinning, and watched slices being cut. "That's the biggest box of pizza I've ever seen in my life!"
Joined by former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine--now running for the Senate--and Sen. Mark Warner, he Vice President was making his last "off the record" food stop on the 2012 campaign trail. He waxed nostalgic about the tough months on the stump, and told his pool he's "feeling good" as he predicted a win on Tuesday.
But first, there was supersize pizza to wrestle with. The young crowd gathered in the small pizzeria was as impressed with the Vice President as he was with the extravagant pies. There were cheers as the Veep and his entourage entered. (Above, Biden watches the pizza being cut with Warner, right)
After a little chatting, hugging and handshaking with the potential voters, the Vice President paid for his pies with cash. He was told they were already paid for, but insisted the guy at the counter take his $20 bill anyway. The Vie President is a good tipper.
As he prepared to leave, the Vice President was holding all three pizzas boxes, then asked for help. He lifted one giant box over his head to walk out with his press pool, to one of the press vans.
"Guys, I didn't plan on the box being that big," he told the pool as he handed over the pizza. "I don't know how you are going to do that."
The President and Vice President's press pools routinely decline offers of food unless they pay for it themselves, but Campaign 2012 is now at its grueling end. In a bit of a wistful farewell, the Vice President referred to his many local food stops in the past few months.
"I keep eating the stuff and you guys never get to have any," Biden said. "So thanks--thanks, guys. I tell ya--you know--it's like you know: you go on a vacation and you come home and bring your kid a sweatshirt. 'Is that all there is a sweatshirt?'
He pointed to the pizza box sitting in the press van.
"All you get this time is a pizza," Biden said. "What the hell."
As he headed back to his limo, the Vice President stopped to greet another crowd of fans, again taking photos and dispensing hugs. One woman asked him to tell the President that she loves him, and he said he would, before urging them to not forget to vote. (The Veep hoists the pizza above his head to get through the crowd)
A short while later, the Vice President sailed into the Roanoke Obama for America field office, carrying the giant pizzas. Warner and Kaine trailed him.
"We are the pizza delivery boys," Biden announced to the jam-packed room, which erupted into cheers when they arrived.
Dr. Jill Biden was also with her husband at the field office.
"Jill and I came with a couple folks you know. Just to say thank you. We’re down to literally the last hours here," the Vice President said.
He gave the crowd a pep talk. In an intimate moment with his pool earlier in the day after a stop at Mimi's Cafe in Sterling, Va, the Vice President said he's "feeling good" about the race.
“I’m feeling good. I really am. But you know, as that old expression goes, it’s all over but the shouting," Biden said. "It feels good though. It feels good. You’ve been with me long enough to know that I’m always optimistic. But I really do feel good."
"The responses have been great," Biden continued. And then, knocking on a wood counter, he added: "So so far, so good."
Pool asked if he really felt there would be a blowout win as he predicted in a recent interview with Chris Matthews.
“I think we’re going to win and I think we’re going to win,” Biden began, before pausing and saying, “You know that old joke, I’ll take one vote majority. But I think we have a clear shot of doing well in the so-called firewall."
"I think we’ll win Ohio. I think we’ll win Wisconsin. I think we’ll win Iowa. I think we’ll win Nevada. I think we’ll win New Hampshire. I think Florida will be close but I think we have a real shot at winning. And this state, we’ve got a clear shot at winning."
“So you know--my grandfather would say, by the grace of God and the good will of the neighbors.”
The President, meanwhile, was in Madison, Wisconsin and Columbus, Ohio on Monday, joined by Bruce Springsteen at both events, and by Jay-Z in Ohio. Late on Monday night, the President will finish his campaign in Des Moines, Iowa, where it all began. First Lady Michelle Obama will arrive in the evening to join her husband.
Info: Benny Marconi's is at 120 East Campbell Avenue, Roanoke, VA, 24016. Phone: 540-400-8818.