Davenport, Iowa -- It's 1:30 p.m. on Caucus Day, and Joe Biden enters Mojo's coffee shop in downtown Davenport to chants of "Joe is Right! Joe is Right!" Students, families with kids and older people pack the large room. They look eager to see him. As he introduces his brother, Jim Biden, he follows with a joke.
"We are praying that we get Secret Service soon, 'cause he's pushing me around too much, you know what I mean?"
Biden continues the family affair by introducing his sister Valerie, his grown son, Hunter, who he calls "the smartest guy in the world and the man I most respect in the world," and pokes fun at his wife, Jill, which ellicites laughs from the crowd.
"Years ago Jill kept collecting master's degrees, she's an educator and I told her, 'Jill why don't you go and get us a doctorate degree, so you can get us some real money!'"
"We're down to the wire here," he continues, and he's about to turn serious, but not before one last anecdote about his aging mother, which again is well-received.
"My mother's not here, she's in Des Moines, running the office. My mom's 90 years old."
"You make her work?" shouts someone from the crowd. By now it's starting to resemble an actual standup routine.
"We all went home for Christmas.. and then we packed up.. and so the whole family's back in Iowa and my mom, she's started packing and she's literally 90 years old, and I said, 'Honey, what are you doing?' And she said, 'I'm going to Iowa with you, Joey,' ...And I said, 'Mom, it's cold out there, we're going to be bouncing around.' She said, 'Joe, there's eight days left and you need me!"
Finally, Biden ends the comedy routine and strikes a careful tone as though he's confiding to friends.
"This is big, big deal. it's not just a big deal for me and the other candidates, but for the entire country."
He goes down the list of the other Democrats, elaborating on his respect for each of them.
"These are friends of mine, Hillary Clinton, ...I mean for real we're genuinely friends." "Chris Dodd is not only a close friend he is ... in politics, but he's one of my closest friends period. He's one of my closest friends in life."
On Bill Richardson, Biden says "I think he's nuts, I tell him, I think he's crazy but I love him, I love him. He's a really great guy, he's really my friend." And he says about Obama and Edwards, "Barack as well as John, I don't know as well, but I have great respect for them."
Biden says it's not that the others are not qualified but his is a different kind of experience.
"Hillary talks about this being all about experience and I understand that, but if it's about experience, I win," Biden explains.
He then begins listing legislation he authored or helped to pass in Congress to drive home his point.
"Hillary's experience is real, it's real and it's worthwhile, ...but I'm the one who wrote the first Child Protection Act, the truth is... it's not about experience, it's about the quality of what you've done." He refers to the Violence Against Women Act. "I actually sat down and wrote with my staff, with no one supporting me the Violence Against Women Act and then the women's movement got behind it and we got it done. But, the point is, when I introduced it no one was for it."
There is talk of foreign policy and what Biden thinks the next president of the United States will face. His words have echoes of political warnings of fear.
"They're going to have 160-to-165,000 men and women bleeding, bleeding for us in Iraq and they're going to have to know how to end that war, how to end that war immediately without leaving chaos behind.
"For the last five months of the debates, you may remember, I was over there going, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, it's not Iran, it's Pakistan'" Biden elaborates. "Pakistan is a larger country, it is an all Muslim country and it's absolutely bristling with nuclear weapons, missiles that can deliver those nuclear weapons as far west as the Mediterranean.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's where Osama Bin Laden lives," he says, slowing down for emphasis. "And it's teetering on chaos."
"The rest of the world is desperately looking for an American president with the depth and breadth of knowledge, with the judgment they can trust to restore America's principles and lead this world, because as much as they resent our power they know no other nation has the capacity to change the trajectory of this world. I know almost all of these world leaders and most of them by their first name, and not because I'm important, I've been a United States senator since I was 29 years old."
Biden says the American people aren't afraid of fixing the challenges of healthcare and the U.S.'s foreign standing.
"We're just looking for leaders with as much courage as we have," to which the crowd responds with more cheers.
Then just as he did in Iowa City on Wednesday, he asks voters to close their eyes and think about their confidence in each candidate's abilities in war negotiations, business/labor relations and national healthcare. And as I look around, I notice that several people actually do close their eyes intently.
"Who do you want in that political boxing ring?" Biden asks loudly.
"I am so sick and tired of hearing about the morality of Republicans and the decadence of Democrats, ladies and gentlemen, I want to look at Mitt Romney and say, 'Tell me where in your Bible it says that waterboarding is a good thing, tell me where it says torture is good.'" The crowd is quite excited at this point and this has genuinely become Biden's final rally.
"I can hardly wait for this fight, I am ready to be president today, go and caucus for me. I need you! Let's take back our country!" he shouts, then comes down from the stage to shake hands and sign autographs for several minutes for supporters as his brother Jim and son Hunter guide him along and out the door.