Vice President Joe Biden made an unannounced appearance Saturday at an important political event in his home state: the Sussex Democratic Jamboree in Lewes, Delaware.
Local organizers describe the Jamboree as a must-stop for Delaware-based candidates and officeholders. It is an unofficial kickoff of the election cycle mixed with a summer party atmosphere. Tickets are sold to raise funds for the local Democratic Party.
The crowd shouted "Joe! Joe! Joe!" as the vice president arrived at around 3 p.m., The News Journal newspaper in Delaware reported.
"I came because Beau would want me to come," Biden said, according to The News Journal "The reason is to say, 'Thank you.' This is where I got started."
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Biden's office had previously told NBC News the vice president did not plan to attend. But on Saturday, an aide to the vice president told NBC News that Biden wanted to "thank the entire Democratic community for their support over the last few months" since the death of his oldest son, Beau Biden, in May.
Biden spoke about Delaware's Democratic candidates and office holders, including likely gubernatorial candidate Rep. John Carney, a Democrat from Delaware, who was absent due to hip surgery.
Biden did not discuss any potential 2016 candidacy. Those at the scene at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes say Biden shook about 300 hands.
A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll published Saturday said 14 percent of likely caucus-goers would make Biden their first choice, even though he is not a candidate. That's nearly double the results from the the organizations' May poll, which found 8 percent of likely caucus-goers listed Biden as their first choice.
The event is held at an outdoor pavilion that was previously named for the vice president's family, but is now known as the "main pavilion" at Cape Henlopen State Park. The late Beau Biden also attended the event through much of his life as a boy, and later as a state official.
The vice president's official schedule stated that he would be in residence in Wilmington, Delaware, with no public events this weekend.