Biden Visits Portsmouth Shipyard Workers, Boosts N.H. Democrats

Sep 3, 2014


Vice President Joe Biden at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Wednesday.
Credit NHPR / Emily Corwin

Vice President Joe Biden visited the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Wednesday. His stated reason was to celebrate shipyard workers – but it was clear he was also there to boost Democrats heading into election season.


Both of those ends were put on hold at the start of Biden’s remarks.  Instead, the Vice President began with fiery rhetoric from Biden for ISIS terrorists, who have now murdered two US journalists.

“They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell, until they are brought to justice,” Biden said, “because hell is where they will reside.”

Biden was also forceful when it came to rallying Democrats as they head into what could be a tough November. He was flanked by candidates for top offices in New Hampshire and Maine, including members of Congress and Maine Gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud. 


Joe Biden is shown the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard's Declaration of Excellence.
Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

  New Hampshire Senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen got the most time in the spotlight.  She looked to galvanize the crowd by raising the specter that the shipyard may one day close.  Then, she vowed her ongoing support.

But in Biden’s speech, he left no doubt that closing the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard wasn’t on his agenda. “You are simply the best in the world,” he said of this Shipyard and the U.S. Navy, “the world!”

The Vice President repeatedly invoked the middle class, praised the shipyard’s high wages. His tone was reminiscent of a union hall.

“We have to seize the moment, and restore the bargain that never left here,” he said. “We gotta start by making sure we have the most skilled workforce in the world.  Like you: labor!”

When his speech was over, Biden headed to The Old Ferry Landing restaurant, in Portsmouth. He said it was recommended by 1st district Congresswoman, Carol Shea-Porter. Together, the two got lunch, Shea-Porter joking “So I have one question, who’s buying?” (Biden was.)

Democrats up and down the ticket dearly hope voters will buy the message that they can effectively lead the country during a time of mounting challenges.

Vice President Joe Biden and District 1 Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter sit down for a meal at Old Ferry Landing in Portsmouth
Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

  A few tables away from Biden, sat ferry landing regulars Jim and Chris Clifford. They usually vote Democratic, but acknowledged this year’s political landscape is tough. When it comes to the U.S. Senate race, Chris said she’s confident Jeanne Shaheen can beat Scott Brown.  Her husband Jim – he’s more worried. “I’m concerned because I think there’s a lot of money behind Mr. Brown,” Clifford says. “But I do think Jeanne will come out in the end, I really do.

Whether Biden’s visit to the Shipyard pays off, remains to be seen. But it’s not simply Democrats who are banking on connections to the Shipyard and Portsmouth this year.

As Scott Brown likes to remind voters, growing up he spent his summers on the Seacoast, and was actually born at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.