As campaign opponents gathered in a show of unity following Tuesday’s election, Vice President Joe Biden made an unexpected visit to Georgetown for Return Day 2012.
Biden visited the dignitaries gathered at Delaware Technical and Community College’s Georgetown campus, but did not take part in the parade through downtown Georgetown because of the logistical problems that would have caused for the event. A previous visit to the event caused major headaches due to the security requirements put in place by the Secret Service to make sure Biden was protected.
During the morning reception, Biden congratulated winners and talked about the significance of Return Day and suggested the whole country should embrace the Delaware tradition.
“I’ve been doing this my whole career and it sounds corny, but I wish we did it the Delaware way in Washington,” said Biden about the event. “Think of the consequence of this tradition. People are going to ride on those carriages and all the bitterness of the campaign evaporates in that four mile ride from Nutter Marvel barn to the circle and it matters. That’s why Delaware works.”
The other candidates, winners and losers, did take part in the parade. The celebration is one of the most visible displays of “The Delaware Way.” The newly elected and the recently defeated put aside the differences of the campaigns to ride or walk the parade route together. At least in most cases.
While Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat, wore a Kevin Wade pin and walked side by side with his Republican opponent, Independent Senate candidate Alex Pires rode by himself in a convertible. Pires waged a brutal, personal campaign against Carper, and the animosity between the two is apparently not something that can be erased by the ceremonial burying of the hatchet that is also a Return Day tradition.
Carper said although the county is divided politically, he hopes return day inspires others bury the hatchet and move forward.
“What we need is a Return Day for our country,” said Carper. “I think one of the secrets to success in Delaware and one of the reasons we’re a state that works is when elections are over they’re over with Return Day and we need that for the country.”
Governor Jack Markell, who rode in the parade with Republican candidate Jeff Cragg, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and Republican candidate Sher Valensuela, said Return Day is not just about burying the hatchet but also bringing both parties together for a stronger state.
“It’s all the people who contested these races, all the people who supported,” said Markell. “And again, whether you’re one side or the other during a campaign it’s not meaningful anymore. The question is – who has the ideas, who has the willingness not just to work together but to move Delaware forward and I think there are a lot of people from both sides of the isle who have exactly that attitude.”