Tuesday, August 14, 2012

VP Biden stops in Stuart at The Coffee Break Cafe (Pool Report)

POOL report No. 1 – Jonathan Martin, Politico

VP Biden made a mid-day OTR stop in the county seat town of Stuart, Virginia. The motorcade pulled into downtown Stuart – what locals call “Uptown” — and the vp immediately went into a restaurant called The Coffee Break Cafe, “family owned since 1973,” as the sign out front read.

The grill was sizzling when your pooler walked in. There were about 25 patrons inside and each of the booths were full. The old-fashioned lunch counter in the back was also full. It was an older crowd, most all over 60.

The walls were filled with pictures of their food plates, marked by number, homage to country crooner Chet Atkins and especially NASCAR memorabilia.Stock car racing is popular in this part of Virginia as there’s a well-known track in the nearest large town, Martinsville.

NASCAR is especially big at the Coffee Break Cafe because Glen Wood is a regular there. Wood is the owner of Wood Brothers Racing, a NASCAR team that won the Daytona 500 in 2011. To be clear for those who don’t follow car racing: Wood himself, an elderly gentleman, didn’t actually drive the car in the race. But he does own the car that won.

The vp was briefed on this fact and entered the cafe by booming: “I heard somebody in here won the Daytona!””Get out of the way man,” Biden said good-naturedly to a photographer on the floor. “Get out of the way

“This guy did what I dreamed of, man,” Biden said as he approached Wood. “I’d trade being vice-president in a heartbeat for having won Daytona.”Biden and Wood exchanged coins, Wood giving Biden a racing coin and Biden giving wood a vp challenge coin.

The vp shared that his first car was “a “51 Plymouth.”Your pooler was soon ushered out.After waiting on the hot street for a few minutes while Biden remained inside, your pool was brought back into the cafe.

The vp was by now holding an old-fashioned glass bottle of coke and chatting with the diners.He was discussing the unemployment levels of what he called the “9/11 generation” of veterans and praising their service in the country’s recent conflicts.

The vp soon pivoted to discussing his wife, who he noted “is an employee of the state of Virginia.”Biden said that both he and potus “married up” and noted to laughs that flotus and slotus are “more popular than we are,” meaning himself and potus.

As Biden was speaking, a lady excused herself and said she had to get back to work.VP asked where and the lady explained that she manages a local Wal-Mart.”That’s a little outfit,” vp cracked.

She invited vp to stop by and Biden joked that he may just do that, likening himself to a poor relative who shows up at your house.”I’m like a poor relative, I show up if I’m in invited. The rich ones never show up. The poor ones come, stay longer than they should, eat your food.”

He then turned the lady around to the press corps and joked, “You know this lady owns Wal-Mart.”The vp then turned backed to the diners and quoted the Harry Truman line: “If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democrat.”

At this, a diner spoke up and said: “I’m glad you all are not talking about doing anything with Social Security”The vp took the cue”Hey, by the way, let’s talk about Social Security. Number one, I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security. I flat guarantee you.”

Your pool was being shoo’d back out of the cafe at this point, but did catch the start of a Biden riff on Medicare. Biden said Republicans want to “voucher’ize” the system.When the vp left the cafe, he walked over to a small crowd of about two dozen people that had formed on the street.

One lady, explaining that she was getting her GED at a local adult learning center, asked what the Obama admin would do about helping those without jobs.VP went into a riff about stopping outsourcing, and showed his local knowledge by citing a hypothetical furniture company that received tax breaks to relocate to China. This region of Virginia, especially next-door Martinsville, is traditionally a furniture-making hub but has been hit hard by outsourcing.

Biden brought up the WashPost story that called Romney “a pioneer of outsourcing.”He then pointed out that the admin had intervened in auto industry.Pool was then hustled back to van for departure.

A few color notes. The cafe is known for its hot dogs, the red-hot kind.I’m told, but didn’t see, that the vp did have a hot dog.Breakfast is also apprently big here and the “morning delights” include biscuits and gravy and a variety of pancakes (strawberry, peach, almond joy, per the menu). Breakfast is served any time.

Patrick County is the home of two famous Virginians from different centuries, Confederate Gen Jeb Stuart and former AG Mary Sue Terry.It’s at the foot of the Blue Ridge – the mountains were visible from downtown — and is right where southside Va becomes southwest Va.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2012, Elections, National, Politics

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