There had to be some serious headslapping this weekend at Obama campaign headquarters.

On Sunday, the president scored a remarkable photo op when he was literally embraced and hoisted aloft by a weight-lifting Florida pizza pub owner Scott Van Duzer, exactly the kind of small-business guy whose support the Republicans are banking on to win. The normally aloof president actually looked like he was having fun and his appearance in an everyday sports pub — was that a Bud Light sign hanging in the window? — was masterful public relations.

And then came the photo of Vice President Joe Biden. Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Campaigning in Ohio, Biden swung by a biker hangout called Cruisers Diner. Biden saw a woman decked out in classic biker style — handkerchief on the head, a leather vest and chain — and motioned her over. He grabbed a chair for her and put it right in front of his.

The photo snapped by an Associated Press photographer makes it look like she’s sitting on Biden’s lap while the overly friendly vice president whispers in her ear. The suspicious and uneasy facial expressions on the two male bikers flanking Biden suggest they won’t be voting him in November. It’s not hard to picture the gray-haired vice president having to leap on the bar a la Peewee Herman and having to charm his way out of the restaurant by dancing to “Tequila.”

Bloggers, of course, are having a field day with this. There’s also a brand new Twitter hashtag — #JoeBidenBikerGangs — for jokes about what to name a Biden-inspired cyclist group. The late-night comedians will likely keep this going for a few days, too. Who could resist?

While Obama staffers are likely rueing Biden Bikergate, there has to be a sigh of relief over at Romney-Ryan headquarters. Paul Ryan’s misremembered marathon time continued the fine tradition of veep candidates serving up monologue fodder after their convention debut. The heat’s now off the Wisconsin congressman, but there’s plenty of time for more gaffes between now and election day.


Jill Burcum is a Star Tribune editorial writer.