Biden stumps at Washington County barbecue joint


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Ending a campaign swing through Eastern Ohio, Vice President Joe Biden stopped off in Washington, Pa., for a piece of cake, a rack of ribs and a side of politics today.

Mr. Biden started his day courting votes in Martins Ferry, just across the state line. On his way to the airport, his motorcade pulled into the parking lot of Hogfather's BBQ.

"I hear the food's pretty good here," the vice president proclaimed as he entered to the applause of about 20 patrons -- a mix of surprised diners and a few Democratic Party partisans who had apparently been tipped off to the meticulously planned spontaneous stop.

Mr. Biden's motorcade pulled up just before 2:30 p.m. and he entered the restaurant wearing an open-neck white shirt, sleeves rolled up, dark slacks, and aviator sunglasses.

Mr. Biden squeezed into an already full booth by the door and exchanged introductions with the diners.

At another booth, Gil Maher, of Pittsburgh, who just finished his freshman year at Syracuse University, asked him whether "a current Syracuse student can get a picture with a Syracuse alumni."

The vice president obliged. Sitting beneath a sign that read, "Free Beer Tomorrow," they chatted about Syracuse basketball. Mr. Maher said that Mr. Biden predicted that the Orange would win the national championship next year, confidence that Mr. Maher did not share.

Mr. Biden had a big hug for Brenda Davis, the Democratic mayor of the town.

"It's very exciting for the city of Washington to have the vice president here," she said just as he was entering.

Asked by a television cameraman why he kept coming back to Pennsylvania -- he was last in the region to march in Pittsburgh's St Patrick's Day Parade -- he answered, "the amazing resilience of the people."/p>

The owner, Frank Puskarich, of McMurray, said Mr. Biden took "a big piece of carrot cake." He also took away "a couple of racks of ribs."

Mr. Puskarich said Mr. Biden insisted on paying for the food. An aide paid for the check,"about $30." He said the group also left "a generous tip."

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James O'Toole: jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562. First Published May 17, 2012 10:30 PM


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