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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Return of Joe the Greek


MANCHESTER, N.H. - About “Joe Bidenopoulos.”

When Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. sat down at a diner on Saturday, wouldn't you know it, he met another table of Greek Americans - which gave him the chance to set the record straight on an earlier bit of campaign cheese some portrayed as a gaffe.

Visiting a diner in Ohio last month, Mr. Biden had introduced himself to a table of Greeks as Joe Bidenopoulos. Internet wags called it a tin-eared attempt to win favor with an ethnic group, or worse, an insult. “Vice President Joe Biden mocked a Greek,” wrote the conservative Weekly Standard.

On a two-day swing through New Hampshire, Mr. Biden visited the Airplane Diner here, and plunked h imself at a table with Marika Spirou, who reminded him that her husband, Chris Spirou, was once chairman of the Democratic Party of New Hampshire. Mr. Biden and Ms. Spirou traded stories, including Mr. Biden's description of a trip to Athens. Then he brought up the Bidenopoulos business, describing his visit to the Mocha House in Warren, Ohio on Aug. 31.

“I walked in and someone said to me, ‘We love you,'” Mr. Biden recounted.

One of the diners, “He says, they tell me you're Greek,” he continued. “I sat down at the table, all the press was listening, they made fun of me because I sat down and there were three older Greek men. I said, My name is Joe Bidenopoulos. Because he had just said that. And these guys'' - meaning the pool of journalists hanging over the table, straining to hear his words â€" “played it like Biden's pretending to be Greek.''

Mr. Biden chuckled and moved on to take a seat at the counter next to his wife, Jill Biden, for lunch.