Vice President Joe Biden's foreign policy speech at New York University today delivered little of the affable, goofy persona that has made him Internet-famous, to the dismay of some students in attendance.
Biden spoke somberly, in almost a stage whisper, so much so that even the bumper-sticker line — "Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive" — got only moderate applause. Even his successful laugh lines were heavy, including how he told President Obama, with regard to bin Laden, that "We will follow the SOB to the gates of hell."
"I don't know that he was as funny as he could be," said Walker Fountain, a high-school senior visiting from Texas. But "he had a couple comments that raised my eyebrow," including the line about Obama having a "big stick."
"He didn't have any like, gaffes, which is a good thing I guess," said Adam Ghebrearistos, a 23-year-old NYU law student. "I mean, he does a good job speaking in plain terms that everyone can understand."
"I think he's aware that he's not always the most politically correct," said Ghebrearistos. As for the "big stick," "I was wondering how aware he was of the implication of what he was saying."
Sara Moe, a politics major at NYU and head of NYU Students, introduced Biden on stage ("thrilling," she said.)
Asked whether Biden was as funny as usual, Moe said "I don't think so, no, because this was a more serious topic that a lot of people really take seriously."
"He was able to slip in a couple of his classic Joe Biden quirks," Moe said. "But definitely a more serious speech."
Some students picked up on more trademark Biden humor than others.
"The line about the big stick, I think that was ad-libbed," said Chase Dalton, a second-year NYU law student. "It was a serious topic for the speech, foreign policy, but he definitely seemed affable."
Rick, 30, an NYU law student who didn't want his last name used, said he didn't expect Biden to be funny. "He was actually funnier than I thought he would be," Rick, who is a Canadian citizen, said.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.