(WASHINGTON) — It appears Joe Biden likes a bargain. The vice president flashed his Costco membership card to cheers from delighted shoppers as he walked through the doors at the grand opening of the discount chain’s first-ever Washington, D.C., store Thursday morning.
“I’ve got to show my card first,” he remarked, before launching into his holiday shopping.
The surprise visit was part of the Obama administration’s broader campaign to pressure Republicans to extend the middle class tax cuts as part of a deficit reduction deal.
“I think it’s important that Congress acts now, I mean right now,” Biden told reporters. “All it has to do is take a single vote to extend the middle class tax cut.”
“If they don’t do that and we go over the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ the fact is that it’s been estimated that $200 billion less will be spent next year, as well as you’re going to have people having their taxes going up roughly $2,300 a year. It’s going to have an impact on the economy,” he said. “We have a lot we have to settle, but there’s one thing we should agree on and that is the middle class tax cut should be made permanent.”
The vice president did spent just under an hour shopping at the new store in the struggling Fort Lincoln neighborhood.
“These are hard-working folks who don’t need to see their taxes go up,” he said.
The Bidens, who have been members of the discount store in the past, re-activated their membership on Wednesday. They paid the $55 membership fee to receive the new cards, according to the White House.
“I’ve got my own,” the vice president was overheard saying of his new membership card. “My wife never let me have one before.”
The grand opening was at 8 a.m. and when the official motorcade arrived more than an hour later, the parking lot in the Northeast neighborhood was already packed.
An employee wheeled Biden’s cart around the floor as he stopped frequently to pose for pictures, shake hands and taste several of the free samples, which he appeared to enjoy.
Biden made stops in the bakery and frozen food section, and picked up several children’s books for “Book Buddies,” a program his wife is involved with in Delaware.
The vice president also perused the jewelry cases. After borrowing a cellphone from his aide, he tried to call his daughter Ashley.
“I’m getting some guidance,” he said, but the call did not go through. He then took a closer look at some of the watches.
The vice president was greeted Thursday morning by CEO Craig Jelinek and Costco Co-founder Jim Sinegal, who was a huge Obama donor and campaign surrogate. President Obama attended a campaign fundraiser hosted by Sinegal at his Washington state home earlier this year and Sinegal had a speaking role at the Democratic National Convention.
“Thanks for coming along. Now you know why my wife doesn’t let me shop alone,” Biden joked at the end of his shopping. “Thanks for shopping with me and I know you won’t tell anybody what I bought for Christmas.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio