Hangin' with Biden: 'Cool is an understatement'

Hangin' with Biden: 'Cool is an understatement'

URBANA — What's a visit to campus without an Alma Mater photo op?

Vice President Joe Biden detoured through Campustown on his way back to Willard Airport on Thursday to take pictures at the iconic University of Illinois statue.

Biden had seen photos of Alma decorated for his appearance today, and asked students about it as soon as he came on stage.

"He said we should go check it out," said Matt Hill, vice president of the Illinois Student Senate.

After his speech wrapped up around 1:30 p.m., Biden spent a half-hour or more taking photos backstage with various VIPs. The motorcade left Campus Recreation Center-East after 2.

A small crowd waited by the barricades along Gregory Avenue as the vice president's limousine passed by. Surprised students waiting for buses near the Undergraduate Library quickly snapped photos.

The vice president also got a glimpse of the camel brought onto the South Quad for Israeli Independence Day.

The motorcade headed north on Fourth Street to Green Street and then parked at Green and Wright streets, stopping traffic for a few minutes.

Riding in Biden's limousine were the three UI students most active in the "It's On Us" campaign — Hill, student body President Mitch Dickey and Sarah Hochman, also a senate vice president.

They took a selfie, of course, and jokingly asked Biden if he'd post photos to his Twitter account. The students told Biden about various campus landmarks as they drove, including Alma's recent restoration. Biden talked about how much he enjoyed meeting people across the country, and asked the students about their backgrounds.

"I asked him what his favorite part of being the vice president was," Dickey said. "He thought for a second, and said, 'I think it's working on some of the major issues I get to work on, being part of the major decisions.'"

Hill said it was like a scene straight out of the TV show "Parks and Recreation," where character Leslie Knope meets Biden, her idol.

"I've sort of always dreamed about meeting him," Hill said. "He tweeted me, which was incredible."

"Cool is an understatement," Dickey said.




A crowd quickly gathered as Biden posed for photos with the students by Alma. He then shook hands and talked with onlookers for about 10 minutes — including about Illini sports. Reporters brought along for the photo op were kept a short distance away.

Marching Illini Director Barry Houser was able to get a photo with the vice president, which he promptly posted on Facebook.

Houser had asked about the possibility of a photo back at CRCE, where the band had played before Biden's speech. The vice president's staff was agreeable but said he had already headed out, said Pat Justice, interim assistant dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, who was with Houser.

"They said, 'Get over to the Alma Mater,' he's there now," she said, and they raced across campus.

Justice got to chat with Biden for a few minutes about his impassioned speech calling for a change in campus culture toward sexual assaults.

"I said, 'Thank you, it was a great message,'" Justice said. "I'm an adviser to a fraternity."

Biden told her, "Well, as my mother would say, 'You're going to skip purgatory and go right to heaven.'"

"He's got a great sense of humor," Justice said.

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Joe American wrote on April 24, 2015 at 9:04 am

On my bucket list of cool things to do, hanging with that buffoon falls somewhere between yanking out my pinkie toenail with pliers and frolicking in my cat's litter box.  Full. 

Apparently some people have their bars set way too low.

Objective Reporter wrote on April 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

For crying out loud!  Who cares what you think?  Let the kids have a great day.

ohnoes wrote on April 24, 2015 at 11:04 am

Because "cool" is what I'm looking for in a person who spends my tax money, runs my country, orchestrates affairs with foreign nations that have a crucial impact on our fiscal position in the world.  Worked great this last couple times.

Objective Reporter wrote on April 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Read the article again.  The "cool" was in reference to spending time with the #2 person in charge of the greatest country in the world.  It was not referring to Biden himself.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on April 27, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Maybe Joe A. and ohnoes would prefer to go hunting with Dick Cheney?