HARWICH PORT— There was a surprise meet and greet on Saturday as people walking the sidewalk ran into former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden, a front runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, was in town for a fundraiser.
It was meant to be a relatively quiet event, but Biden exited his vehicle about a block and a half away from the gathering point of his supporters, Perks Coffee Shop and Beer Garden in the center of Harwich Port. Biden drew a crowd, shaking hands, chatting and making himself available for selfies as he moved through the village.
“He’s such a nice guy,” Taylor Powell, owner of Perks, said after the event was over. “He looks you in the eye when he talks to you. He took the time to talk to every person, even out on the street, stopping and shaking hands and meeting and chatting with the kids.”
Powell said he was approached by State Representative Claire D. Cronin, D- Easton, about the use of his facilities to host the Biden event. He said Cronin and her daughters come to Perks often. “She reached out and we made it happen,” Powell said.
Powell said he did not know the specifics of the event, admitting to being closed out of the details; he was just asked if he’d provide the venue. “But we are humbled,” Powell said.
Powell said Biden is a supporter of small business and took the time to have pictures taken with the staff at Perks. Staff members were wearing Perks T-shirts with an added message on the back which read “Biden in 2020.”
“He couldn’t have been any nicer,” Sarah Powell said. “It was cool to have the former vice president of the United States here. Overall it was a positive event.”
Biden spent an hour and a half to two hours at Perks and talked about significant issues he wants to address such as health care, Taylor Powell said.
Selectman Ed McManus said he talked a little bit with Biden. “He’s a nice guy, it was a nice event and he offered a very good speech. He talked about how we’re not being represented and how the American values are not being put forward by the present president,” McManus said.
Biden talked about tax policy, health care and immigration and spoke about his capabilities and why he’d be a much better president for the country and the world, McManus said.
The event drew a big crowd. The fire department received a couple of complaints from different people relating to overcrowding at Perks. One person inside the event reported counting 152 people. When Fire Chief Norman Clarke, Jr. arrived, he counted 200 people. The chief and Fire Inspector Brian Coughlan spoke to Powell toward the end of the event about being compliant.
It was not as crowded as people thought,” Sarah Powell said, “there were partitions set up and it was totally empty in the back.”
Deputy Police Chief Kevin Considine said his department received a noise complaint at the same time as the the over-crowding complaint was filed with the fire department. The sergeant on duty visited the restaurant and while there were loud voices, that is not covered under the noise bylaw and there was no violation.
Efforts to reach State Rep. Cronin for comment on the event were unsuccessful. Biden also attended a private event in Yarmouth.