Des Moines is so odd this morning. The streets are mostly deserted on a holiday, except for the several-block radii around campaign events, where the picture couldn't be more different.
Joe Biden made his pitch in downtown Des Moines at noon at the Raccoon River Brewing Company, which would normally be packed with paying patrons that time of day.
The man has a lot of sympathy, as the perhaps 500 people in attendance make clear. Like one could see with Mike Huckabee before he broke big, Biden's relatively smaller audiences loved this guy. He's a great orator, and has a seemingly lethal combination of intellect, gravity, and passion.
After introducing his rather large family - Biden claimed 22 of them had dinner together last night - the Delaware Senator gave a shortened version of his stump speech, playing up his great experience and long record of authoring and shepherding major bills through Congress.
If anyone could compete with Obama for Independents and Republicans, this would be the guy. But he won't, because too many people don't think he can win.
It's that concept that is so frustrating to Biden and his supporters. Why do you want to vote for someone who isn't as smart as your Secretary of State, Biden would ask crowds rhetorically, referencing the job many had picked out for him months ago.
I've heard his supporters ask why the media "let" Huckabee rise in the fall, while Biden has stayed where he is. It's a great question, and here's the reason: Republicans were looking for somebody else because they didn't really like any of their other candidates. Democrats loved theirs, and there didn't exist that vacuum begging for an alternative candidate to fill it. That's not the only reason, but I believe it's the only one that really matters.
So Biden remains the second choice of, I think, a lot of Iowans, and could easily have a big role in the next administration. He may surprise with a strong showing on Thursday, but it won't be anywhere near the top tier, unfortunately for many.
* - Photo: Legion fans await Biden's entrance to the Raccoon River Brewing Co.