On Tuesday morning, Joe Biden walked onstage at a mostly empty Wells Fargo Arena, did a sound and teleprompter check, spoke to some students who were visiting the arena, and then couldn’t resist coming down to chat with the small scrum of, mostly, television reporters who had spotted him. Biden was in classic Uncle Joe mode as he downplayed the tensions between Bernie and Hillary supporters here in Philadelphia: He was upbeat, folksy, warm, and respectful to the Sanders supporters and optimistic about Clinton’s chances in November (without ever once uttering her name); he even threw in a reference to Scranton. Below, the most Joe Biden impromptu press conference ever.
So he wasn’t worried about any fracturing of the party?, a reporter asked. “I do not think there’s any fracturing of the party,” Biden replied. “I wish we could put something on every Sanders delegate walking into a booth,” by which he seemed to mean some sort of vote-tracking device. “If we were able to find out, I bet you everything I have that hardly anyone is gonna pull the lever for Trump. Come on, man, are you kiddin’ me? They’re gonna show up! But look, they worked really hard! They did more to change the attitude in the party than anything that’s happened in a long, long time. It’s all for the better!”
Did he have any hard feelings about last night’s booing of Democratic speakers?, asked another journalist.
“No, no, come on. You’ve covered more than one campaign! Every convention when there’s been a convention fight, what I’ve observed is: People are there, they made it to the convention, but they didn’t quite make it all the way; so there’s always that piece — ‘It should be us!’ But that’s normal, man!”
What about the fact that so many Sanders supporters believe Clinton rigged the primary results?
“That whole thing about the emails doesn’t help,” said Biden, “but like one of Bernie’s major supporters said last night: He didn’t lose or she didn’t win because of any email! C’mon, man!”
And finally, the vice-president was asked, was he surprised that Donald Trump is doing as well as he is in the polls?
Biden grinned, his teeth unimaginably white. “I think this is really, really early,” he replied. “I had a grandfather from Scranton; his name was Ambrose Finnegan. And he used to say, ‘Joey, people don’t focus till after the World Series!’ And I think they focus right about the beginning of October. I mean, look, anybody want to take a bet on this election? I’m not allowed to bet as the vice-president, but come on. If I could …”
And with a glint in his eye, Joe Biden moved on.