Joe Biden knocks on door of Obama’s inaugural train

January 18th, 2009 - 11:19 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWilmington (Delaware), Jan 18 (DPA) Vice presidents usually claim second fiddle in the presidential limelight, but Saturday, for a few moments, Joe Biden stood in the sun - despite the minus 12 degree Centigrade chill.The vice president-elect boarded the historic inaugural train in his hometown of Wilmington, which had earlier picked up president- elect Barack Obama on the historic final journey towards Washington and the inauguration Tuesday.

Before he took off, he spoke to a crowd of thousands of wellwishers at the flag-festooned station, promising them that spring was coming after the chill of fear over the economy and the country’s two wars.

But he added that the new administration would need more than prayers.

“We’ll need your hard work. If ours is to be a successful journey, it must be a shared journey,” Biden said.

Biden was joined on the speaker’s podium by the train conductor he had grown to know well during 36 years of daily commutes as a US senator between Wilmington and Washington.

Others in the crowd were equally familiar with Biden, including his neighbour and golf companion of 30 years Tony Clark, 57.

“This is the biggest thing for any politician ever in Delaware,” Clark told DPA.

Clark also noted Biden’s gregarious character, especially on the train where he often shared the commute.

“He’s always talking to somebody,” Clark said.

Savitha Krishna, 33, had braved the chill with her husband and five month old son, Mikhail, with the hope of catching a glimpse of Obama.

“We wanted our little one to be a part of history,” she told DPA. “He’s such an inspirational figure, he makes you want to come out in subzero temperatures!”

When the train pulled into Wilmington station, Biden had a moment of hesitation when he climbed the steps to Amtrak’s blue Pullman car at the end of the train. He stood for a bit, then tapped on the door. When no one answered, he opened and stuck his head through the door as if to say “anyone home?” broadcast images showed.

Biden shrugged, walked back down the train steps to the platform, and waited.

Finally, after a moment or two, Obama and first-lady-to-be Michelle Obama emerged through the door and joined Biden and wife Jill Biden on the platform, with hugs all around.

“Happy birthday,” exclaimed Jill Biden as she hugged Michelle, who is celebrating her 45th birthday.

Both women wore purple. Michelle donned a bright purple shirt and jacket, while Jill wore a frilly purple collar underneath her jacket.

In Philadelphia, Obama paid tribute to the 18th century colonists who declared independence from Britain there and called for the country to strive for a more “perfect union.” After Wilmington, the train will also stop in Baltimore, re-enacting president Abe Lincoln’s journey to Washington nearly 150 years ago.

“It’s not every day you get to do your daily commute with the next president of the United States of America,” Biden said.

As the train left the station, Biden stepped part way onto the small platform outside the lush blue Pullman car and waved, claiming a final moment of warmth from his cheering hometown.

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