CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said Monday he's thrilled to have Vice President Joe Biden as keynote speaker for the party's annual dinner -- and not just because it marks the first time a sitting president or vice president has appeared at the event since Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Biden will headline the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on Oct. 12, state Democratic Party officials announced Monday.
"He's also a wonderful parent and a good person," Puccio said of Biden, who for years commuted to the U.S. Senate from his home near Wilmington, Del., to raise his sons after his wife and daughter were killed in a traffic accident.
"I always was impressed with him that he went home every night to take care of the boys," Puccio said.
Puccio said that blue-collar spirit will play well at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, and said the Biden's announcement is already spurring ticket sales.
"I've had people call me today that don't traditionally go to the J-J dinner," he said.
Biden has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016.
The dinner at the Charleston Civic Center will also be a celebration of Sen. Jay Rockefeller's 50 years of public service to the Mountain State, Puccio said. Rockefeller has announced that he will retire from the Senate when his current term ends in 2014.
"The vice president understands very well that we are honoring Sen. Rockefeller for his years of service to West Virginia," Puccio said. "I'm sure he'll be talking about serving with him all these years."
Before he became President Barack Obama's vice president, Biden served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009.
Biden also came to Charleston in October 2008, in the waning days of that year's presidential campaign. The Obama-Biden ticket lost West Virginia, but won the national election that year. Biden also came to Charleston for the funeral of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd in 2010.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.