The local politicos who awaited Barack Obama’s arrival to a northwest Philadelphia schoolyard on Sunday afternoon all seemed to have the same unanswered question.

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The local politicos who awaited Barack Obama’s arrival to a northwest Philadelphia schoolyard on Sunday afternoon all seemed to have the same unanswered question: what was Joe Biden doing there? Why did Obama need his running mate to help win over a largely black crowd in a Democratic stronghold?

The two have never had a particularly compelling chemistry on stage: the vice-president seems to evoke alternating waves of impatience and bemusement from his boss. But the unusual joint appearance was the best shorthand to evoke 2008 nostalgia among the loyal Democrats whose participation could help rescue an otherwise dismal election day on 2 November.

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