Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden greets supporters during a campaign stop at The Community Oven restaurant in Hampton, N.H. | Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

2020 Elections

Biden’s wild New Hampshire meet-and-greet

HAMPTON, N.H. — It was supposed to be a standard meet-and-greet event in a coastal New Hampshire town.

But Joe Biden inadvertently created a ruckus here in a pizza restaurant Monday when reporters and onlookers climbed on tables and broke glassware in a frenzied scramble to get a better view of the former vice president.

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The small-venue event marked Biden's first foray into the early voting state since he launched his presidential campaign in April.

Biden packed a crowd of around 100 people into The Community Oven, where he laid out his vision for uniting the country and boosting the middle class. After delivering his stump speech, Biden took half a dozen questions from the audience.

"I want to restore the soul of this country," Biden told the crowd. "I really want to, quite frankly, rebuild the backbone of this country."

Biden called for free community college, protecting health care and getting rid of President Donald Trump's tax cut during his speech. The former vice president also said he's preparing a speech to lay out his environmental vision by the end of the month. "We need an environment revolution," Biden said.

As he spoke, he stepped off the small stage to pace through the crowd of people, who were seated around tables. At one point during his speech, with the press crammed on a riser in front of the restaurant's brick pizza oven, Biden pointed to a person standing by the hot oven and joked the man "must be perspiring."

After he finished speaking, the event took on a chaotic feel as supporters rushed to take pictures with the former vice president. Because the crowd around Biden was so large, reporters and onlookers climbed over tables and onto chairs to snap photos of Biden while he took selfies and shook hands. That’s when things got messy.

One person shattered a glass, and another knocked over a table as Biden slowly made his way through the crowded restaurant. When Biden unexpectedly took a question from reporters halfway through the photo line, it sparked another mad dash toward him.

Biden attracted a mostly white, largely middle-aged crowd to the afternoon event, where he received a gift: a New Hampshire license plate emblazoned with "BIDEN."

The former vice president mentioned former President Barack Obama at least three times during his visit to Hampton. Biden called Obama "one heck of a president" and said Obama doesn't get enough credit. At another point, Biden told the story of his decision to sit out of the 2016 race, giving details of how he confided in Obama about his choice. Biden also said he would not have run against Hillary Clinton, adding he considers her a friend.

"What I'm most passionate about, and I really mean it, is doing something about the abuse of power," Biden said during his question-and-answer. He cited his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, protesting the Vietnam War and pushing for the Violence Against Women Act. "I’ve never liked bullies," Biden added.

Outside the restaurant, the scene was markedly calm. A handful of onlookers stood in the parking lot near a black SUV, trying to catch a glimpse of the Delaware Democrat. There was one man in a "Make America Great Again" hat and a pair of protesters with a large painted sign that read "Same old Joe." Nearby, a couple sold unofficial Biden campaign merchandise.

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