Fresh from delivering a moving tribute to 9/11 victims, Vice President Joe Biden told Shanksville, Pa., firefighters on Tuesday that he would have them down to Washington—"No bullshit."
Upon noticing that reporters were within earshot, Biden amended himself. "This is no malarkey. You come to the White House. I'll buy you a beer." Details of the exchange came courtesy of the print pool reporter, Peter Baker of the New York Times.
Biden had traveled to Pennsylvania for a memorial to the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, credited with rising up against their al-Qaida hijackers and sending the plane into a field—sparing a target in Washington.
Afterward, Biden paid an unannounced call on the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department and chatted with Deputy Chief Brad Shober, 44. Biden had met Shober during an event honoring the department at the vice president's residence, and saw him again at the 2010 ceremony marking the worst terrorist attacks on American soil.
Here is Baker's pool report:
Vpotus made an unannounced stop at the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department to say hi to the firefighters and arrived just in time for the barbeque and a little earthy talk.
Jumping out of his limousine, Vpotus immediately encountered Deputy Chief Brad Shober, 44, of Shanksville, whom he had met the year before when hosting the department at the Vice President's Residence in Washington and then again a few days later in Shanksville on last year's 9/11 anniversary.
Vpotus was talking about having Shober and the other firefighters back to Washington and pointed to an aide. "He's going to call you, no bullshit," Vpotus said. Then noticing the pool, said, "I didn't know you guys were here." Turning back to Shober, he cleaned up the language. "This is no malarkey. You come to the White House. I'll buy you a beer."
Shober, holding a Coke Zero, told your pool that Vpotus last year had given him one of his vice presidential challenge coins and told him, "'Next time I see you, if you have that coin, drinks are on me. If you don't have it, drinks are on you.' Now knowing that he might come, I made sure that was on my pocket." Since Vpotus didn't have his coin to show him back, he made the spontaneous invitation to come back to DC.
Vpotus worked the group of firefighters as he typically does, gripping their shoulders, joking with them, telling them Delaware stories. One firefighter said, "You got my vote." Vpotus replied, "Thank you, man. That's not why I'm here but thank you."
He talked again about hosting them after the election. "Win, lose or draw, I'm still going to be vice president in January." They should come, he said. "That's a deal." He added: "I give you my word. I'm not just saying it."
He introduced Sec Salazar and suggested a certain insecurity. "He's probably smarter than you and two, he's probably tougher than you."
He gathered the firefighters and posed for pictures in front of a red fire truck with a banner "United We Stand" in red white and blue. Looking at the clear sky, he said, "Isn't it eerie? The day's just like it was."
Then he headed over to the grill. "Come on, let's go get one. I want a hot dog." He actually served himself a hamburger and put a slice of American cheese on it. He pulled a $20 bill out of his wallet and put it in a firefighter's boot that was used to deposit donations. "I want the record to show," he said. Then noting Sec Salazar behind him in line, he added: "My twenty covers both of us." Asked what Dr. Biden would think of his diet, he said, "She's going to say, 'Joe, what the hell are you doing?' I just ate a peanut butter sandwich between here and there."
He posed again for pictures with retired Chief Terry Shaffer in front of a cross made out of steel beams from the World Trade Center. The cross had the numbers 9 11 01 on it and a plaque: "NEVER FORGET. We honor those who saw their untimely fate before them and chose to defeat evil to ensure America's freedom. FLIGHT 93."
"Pretty cool, isn't it?" he said to the cabinet secretaries. Then he stroked the cross, talking about how it came from an I-beam. The firefighters presented him and the two secretaries with blue Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department T-shirts. A firefighter introduced his girlfriend. Vpotus cupped her face in his hands. "Dangerous to date a volunteer firefighter," he playfully warned her.
Somehow he then got into a discussion of racing. "I'm a frustrated-" and then he stopped himself and said he shouldn't say so in front of the pool but went ahead anyway, "dragster." As your pool was then ushered away, Vpotus was saying something about the feel of the road.
Motorcade now headed back to AF2.