Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Driving with Joe--06/28/2010

I was asked by the Chris Coons for Senate campaign to drive White House staffers during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Wilmington yesterday. I had done this once (driving Joe's staffers) during the 2008 campaign. That time was a snore--show up early at a hotel in Wilmington, drive them to the Wilmington airport, return to the hotel. This time was different.

Three of us met two staffers at a Wilmington hotel. We had two vans to drive--I drove the large one, able to hold 15 passengers. We drove to the Wilmington airport. Nothing special.

But then the weather changed--the storm clouds came and the heavens opened. We learned that the plane could not land in Wilmington. They considered diverting to Philly, but decided on Dover. Times immediately got very interesting.

We joined a police-escorted motorcade down route 1 to Dover Air Force Base, lights on, flashers on, at fairly high speed in the left lane. I had to slam on my brakes once to avert an accident. We lost our police escort south of route 40 when other cars jumped in ahead of us (it is hard for a large van to accelerate as fast as a police cruiser).

We made it to Dover, and I talked my way through the gate, drove across many landing strips to Biden's plane. The staff came down and entered the van. VP Biden came down and went into his (presumably Secret-Service driven) van.

Now we were bona fide, we weren't driving to see the VP, we had the VP with us, and were behind schedule. On the way back north, the police stopped most conflicting traffic (yes, blame me for yesterday afternoon's traffic problems). As such, we were able to breeze into the Chase Center.

After delivering the White House staff to the Chase Center, the three of us drivers shared our white-knuckle stories. It was quite an experience!

Chris Coons did a great job on the first speech, and in introducing Biden. I tweeted a bit of Biden's remarks (I did not tweet while driving to/from Dover). After Biden's remarks, he worked the crowd, and then came backstage. He greeted and had pictures taken with law enforcement, with Chris Coons' volunteers, and with the three of us (individual pictures were taken by a White House photographer--that is going in a frame). When he spoke with me, he asked whether it was hard to keep up with the troopers (yes, very much so).

It was very hard to drive (almost) within the speed limit on the way home. It was also hard to not burst with the experience. We were given VP memorabilia--I have a Vice President of the United States baseball cap embroidered with Biden's signature on the back. VERY COOL!

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