Two days after his Republican counterpart was named, Vice President Joe Biden made a spirited stop in Durham, friendly territory to begin picking apart the freshly minted Romney-Ryan ticket.
Durham County cast 103,000 votes for Obama in 2008, compared to just 32,000 for McCain. That was the widest percentage margin of any county in the state. Mayor Bill Bell said, given that Obama won North Carolina by 14,000 votes, Durham should be able to take a good deal of the credit.
So the campaign event Monday at the Durham Armory was definitely about energizing the base, preaching to the choir rather than seeking converts.
The nearly 1,000 people who packed the Foster Street auditorium met their end of the bargain, cheering and waving blue signs at nearly every stump-speech applause line and gamely playing along with the antics of the enthusiastic crowd warm-up guy, Lamont.
They were urged to participate in voter-registration drives and door-to-door canvassing. They were even enticed with this offer: nine hours of volunteering for the Obama campaign gets one ticket to hear the president speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. (Click HERE to learn more about that.)
The crowd was left waiting a good two hours before Biden finally emerged, but their fervor seemed stoked rather than diminished by the tedium.
Biden lived up to his reputation as a good-natured attack dog. He several times mentioned how both Romney and Ryan are "good men, decent men" before tearing down their policies and, in some cases, their characters.
Biden swiped at Romney's Swiss and Cayman Islands bank accounts, his failure to disclose his tax returns and his work at Bain Capital, which is accused of callously shipping jobs overseas.
"I don't have to tell y'all about outsourcing," Biden said, one of several times the Delaware native used the y-word.
"I come from a textile state, too. I love Romney's answer, that there's a difference between outsourcing and off-shoring. Ask the guy standing on the unemployment line: Were you outsourced or offshored? And the president's out of touch? Come on."
Again stressing that Romney and Ryan, the latter Biden called to congratulate on Sunday, are decent guys, Biden argued, "They have fundamentally flawed judgment in my view."
"Do you know what they call their budget plan? They call it 'gutsy,'" Biden said to groans from the crowd.
"What's gutsy about giving millionaries another tax break? What's gutsy about gutting Medicare, Medicaid, education?"
The message from Biden and other speakers Monday was clear: Romney represents a return to "top-down" economic policies, which Democrats say caused the recession the country's still struggling to overcome. The Obama campaign says its policies, from health care reform to Pell Grants to targeted tax cuts and hikes, will benefit the middle class.
"This is not some campaign cliche," Biden said. "Every time the middle class has been growing, everybody does well. The poor have a way up and the rich people do very, very well because people have more money to spend. Too many hard-working Americans who played by the rules saw themselves lose $16 trillion in wealth. The middle class got clobbered through no fault of their own. They were stripped of their dignity."
"I've watched this guy, man," Biden said of Obama. "This guy's driven by one thing: restoring that dignity to the American people."
The familiar whoops started up, but Biden quieted them down.
"No, no for real," Biden said. "I mean that sincerely. That's not an applause line."
Maybe the only one of the afternoon.
"He touched my heart," Obie Wicker said after the speech.
His wife, Alfreda, added, "I like him. I like his fire. I like his plain way of talking. He makes it personal."