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Biden Visits N.H. To Talk About Jobs ... But Not His Own

Vice President Biden and N.H. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan meet with employees March 25 at the New Hampshire Works center in Manchester.
Jim Cole

If you didn't know any better (or you got confused about what year it was), you might think Vice President Biden was back on the campaign trail, kissing grandmothers, slapping guys on the back and borrowing a woman's phone to razz her son about a basketball game.

Biden returned Tuesday to the familiar campaign grounds of New Hampshire for the first time since October 2012. And he swears he made the trip not to stake out ground for a presidential run, but rather to check out how the statewith the nation's first presidential primary helps match the unemployed with jobs.

But first to that grandmother.

Enis Sullivan is 101 years old, and her granddaughter works at XMA, a high-tech manufacturing firm Biden visited to learn about its on-the-job training program. When the granddaughter learned Biden would be visiting her office, she made sure her mother and grandmother would be there to meet him.

Vice President Biden greets Enis Sullivan, 101, with a kiss Tuesday in New Hampshire.
Tamara Keith / NPR
Vice President Biden greets Enis Sullivan, 101, with a kiss Tuesday in New Hampshire.

And meet him she did.

"God, I love you, mom," Biden said, greeting Sullivan.

There was a hug, a handshake, and a kiss on the cheek that looked like it could be heading for the lips.

"I need a hug," said Biden going in for one of his trademark embraces. "I need a hug, too," replied Sullivan clearly tickled by the whole experience.

Walking away, Biden was asked if he could rule out a run for president, and he had an answer ready to go.

"I'm here about jobs," said Biden. "Not mine."

Later, at an event at a New Hampshire Works Center, where the unemployed are matched with resources and jobs, Biden talked passionately about the pain of a job loss. And, just to be perfectly clear, he insisted once again that he was in New Hampshire because of its workforce development programs.

"The program you have here at New Hampshire Work[s] is grounded in real needs, real opportunities, and real results," said the vice president. "The reason we're here, notwithstanding what others think is a simple proposition, you run the best outfit in the country."

The state unemployment rate is just under 5 percent, far better than the national average. Biden is reviewing the nation's workforce development programs at the request of the president.

"We're trying to replicate what you're doing all over the country," Biden said to one of the employees at XMA.

Flattery never hurts, especially if you're keeping your options open.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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