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Vice President Biden 'Fires Up' Charlotte Crowd

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Charlotte Tuesday. More than 1,000 people turned out at the N.C. Music Factory to hear him speak.

West Charlotte High School’s band director got a call Monday asking if the band could play a gig on short notice.

The next day, band members were in full uniform, banging their drums and blowing their horns to entertain a long line of people waiting to see the vice president of the United States.

After the band played outside, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx was the first speaker inside The Fillmore.

“In 2008, our city helped turn North Carolina blue, right?” Foxx said to raucous applause. “In 2012, I’m asking you to do something real simple. Let’s get out, let’s work harder this year than we did in 2008!”

Congressman Mel Watt from N.C.’s 12th District took the stage next. He emphasized a major point from the president’s reelection campaign.

“Now the real work begins, and what happens on October 18th?” Watt asked the people in attendance. They shouted back, “Early voting!”

Early voting in 2008 gave then-Senator Obama a comfortable lead in North Carolina over Senator John McCain heading into election day. Many people at The Fillmore said they plan to vote early for Mr. Obama again. 

Biden took the stage about an hour late because thunderstorms delayed his flight. While the crowd waited, there were the expected chants of “four more years!” But the people there also tried out another one: “Fired up, ready for Joe!” (That’s a spinoff of a rallying cry for the president’s reelection campaign.)

When the vice president did arrive, he walked out to a Bruce Springsteen song and a big round of applause.

“It’s great to be back to Charlotte,” Biden said. “Y’all put on a heck of a convention. Congratulations!”

In his speech, Biden said Republicans have acknowledged that the president was handed an economy in crisis when he took office. But the vice president said the Republicans talk about the Great Recession as if it fell out of the sky in 2008.

“As my little 7-year-old granddaughter would say, did Casper the Ghost do it? I mean who dropped it all here?” Biden said as the crowd laughed. “It was their policies! It was what they voted for, what they supported!”

The vice president also talked about what Mr. Obama’s administration has done, like ending the war in Iraq and winding down the one in Afghanistan, as well as passing the health care law and keeping interest rates low on student loans.

Outside The Fillmore after the speech, UNC-Charlotte student Rachel Foster said Biden and Mr. Obama have her support.

“They care about student loans,” Foster said. “I love that because I’m one of them – I have student loans.” Foster said they help a lot.

Dick Robbins and his wife also plan to vote for the president and vice president. They’re from Mint Hill, and Dick said he’s always been a fan of Biden.

“He relates to us,” Robbins said. “He lost his wife and his daughter, and we lost a daughter, so we can relate in that. He understands what the average person has to go through every day.”

Several people there signed up to volunteer for the campaign, including Michelle Horton from Charlotte.

“We had the Democratic Convention here,” Horton said. “For him to return back and keep his people fired up I think that’s awesome. I think that’s smart.”

The vice president has traveled to North Carolina six times this year. The state just barely went for Mr. Obama in 2008 – he won by about 14,000 votes.