"All you wanted was a quiet dinner and the vice president shows up," he said to no one in particular as he entered Cardo's Pizza. The restaurant's customers were friendly to Biden and some posed for pictures with him. But many at the restaurant in the heavily Republican area said they had no plans to vote for Obama and Biden.
The store's owner, John Moore, a father of four who has owned Cardo's for 23 years, politely chatted with Biden, but said later that he does not support the Democratic ticket. Moore opposes abortion.
Moore quipped about the VP's visit: "Someone asked me if this happens every Saturday night. I said: 'World leaders come here every Saturday night.'"
Sydney Humphreys, an 11-year-old cheerleader who was eating dinner with her family, said "it was pretty cool" to meet the vice president. But she, too, said she is not a supporter. She's a Romney fan.
Biden took little notice of his hosts' political leanings, hugging or high-fiving nearly everyone he saw after four formal campaign speeches and an equal number of informal stops. He frequently noted red-clad Ohio State Buckeye fans, out in force on a football Saturday.
Chatting with a football coach in Jackson, Biden said: "The most exciting night of my life was Friday night. That's when I'd play ball."
Cathy Pool, 48, of Chillicothe, sporting a red Ohio State T-shirt, told Biden that she and her partner of nearly 25 years, Mendy Yates, were celebrating their anniversary this year. Ohio law prohibits them from marrying, but Biden told Pool, "It's going to happen."
Biden's words "meant everything in the world to me," said Pool, a nurse who started volunteering for Obama a month ago after Romney visited Chillicothe. "It's nice to be acknowledged."
While crowds at Biden's speeches were small — he spoke to fewer than 2,600 people over two days — they were enthusiastic.
Strickland, the former governor, traveled with Biden all weekend and introduced him at all four speeches.
Obama doesn't have to win southern Ohio for the intense effort here to pay off, Strickland said. "If we can increase the percentage (of the Obama vote) from 39 percent to 43 percent, that may be enough" to win the state, he said.
The winner in Ohio, he said, is likely to be the winner nationwide.
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