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Vice President Biden Arrives on St Croix

Vice President Joe Biden arrived mid-Tuesday, for some vacation time on St. Croix, or at least his airplane – Air Force Two – arrived at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. For security reasons, no one will come right out and say the vice president was actually on the plane when it arrived. However, a release obtained by the Source Wednesday confirmed he will be here enjoying a family vacation until Jan. 4.

To Benjamin and Soliel Rivera, ages 10 and 8, the man they watched climb down the stairs of the big white plane with the blue stripe down the side and the words "United States of America" across the side, sure looked like the vice president.

They were at the airport with their mother, Annette, when the plane landed.

It was really cool," Benjamin said. "I saw the two Secret Service guys come down the stairs and look at everything. They even got on top of the truck (the Texaco fuel truck that met the plane out on the tarmac) and looked at that, and they did something up there."

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The plane was about two football fields away from the Riveras’ perch on the other side of the chain link fence, so they didn’t get a great look.

After the Secret Service agents finished their inspection, Benjamin and Soliel said they saw a man with silver hair and a dark suit come down the ladder from the plane, step into a limousine, and drive away. They presume the man was Biden.

Their mother said the agents spent what seemed like a very long time standing out by the car before the man came down and boarded.

She also added that on Monday, her husband saw a caravan of security cars driving towards the east side of St. Croix, and assumed they were scouting for a visit by someone fairly important.

Driving to the airport with her children Tuesday, she said the police presence was overwhelming all along the route to the east side, with police officers and dogs at every intersection and turnoff. There was no similar security to the west of the airport.

A reporter following a tip that Biden had arrived was told by members of the St. Croix Taxi Association, "You missed him! He left about five minutes ago! There were police cars everywhere and fire engines and ambulances, and they shut down everything, and then he was gone!"

The Source received some confirmation of the vice president’s visit in response to a question of whether Delegate Donna Christensen would take part in any public events with the vice president. The congresswoman replied that there were no public events, "This is private travel."

Earlier Tuesday, St, Croix Police Chief Chris Howell declined to comment on rumors that the vice president would be on island, saying any questions would have to go to the Secret Service.

Questions to the Secret Service press office in Washington D.C. were referred to the White House press office, which then transferred the call to the Office of the Vice President. That phone rang unanswered until a machine picked up, but the message left asking for information on Biden’s trip was not returned, as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.

While the two young Riveras were excited about having seen the vice president (they assume,) mom said she was a little disappointed about who they didn’t see.

"I wanted to see Dr. Biden," she said, referring to the vice president’s wife, Jill Biden, who is a teacher and the first wife of a vice president to hold a paying job while her husband serves in office. Whether Dr. Biden traveled some other way, or will be arriving later was not known.

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Vice President Joe Biden arrived mid-Tuesday, for some vacation time on St. Croix, or at least his airplane – Air Force Two – arrived at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. For security reasons, no one will come right out and say the vice president was actually on the plane when it arrived. However, a release obtained by the Source Wednesday confirmed he will be here enjoying a family vacation until Jan. 4.

To Benjamin and Soliel Rivera, ages 10 and 8, the man they watched climb down the stairs of the big white plane with the blue stripe down the side and the words "United States of America" across the side, sure looked like the vice president.

They were at the airport with their mother, Annette, when the plane landed.

It was really cool," Benjamin said. "I saw the two Secret Service guys come down the stairs and look at everything. They even got on top of the truck (the Texaco fuel truck that met the plane out on the tarmac) and looked at that, and they did something up there."

The plane was about two football fields away from the Riveras' perch on the other side of the chain link fence, so they didn't get a great look.

After the Secret Service agents finished their inspection, Benjamin and Soliel said they saw a man with silver hair and a dark suit come down the ladder from the plane, step into a limousine, and drive away. They presume the man was Biden.

Their mother said the agents spent what seemed like a very long time standing out by the car before the man came down and boarded.

She also added that on Monday, her husband saw a caravan of security cars driving towards the east side of St. Croix, and assumed they were scouting for a visit by someone fairly important.

Driving to the airport with her children Tuesday, she said the police presence was overwhelming all along the route to the east side, with police officers and dogs at every intersection and turnoff. There was no similar security to the west of the airport.

A reporter following a tip that Biden had arrived was told by members of the St. Croix Taxi Association, "You missed him! He left about five minutes ago! There were police cars everywhere and fire engines and ambulances, and they shut down everything, and then he was gone!"

The Source received some confirmation of the vice president's visit in response to a question of whether Delegate Donna Christensen would take part in any public events with the vice president. The congresswoman replied that there were no public events, "This is private travel."

Earlier Tuesday, St, Croix Police Chief Chris Howell declined to comment on rumors that the vice president would be on island, saying any questions would have to go to the Secret Service.

Questions to the Secret Service press office in Washington D.C. were referred to the White House press office, which then transferred the call to the Office of the Vice President. That phone rang unanswered until a machine picked up, but the message left asking for information on Biden's trip was not returned, as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.

While the two young Riveras were excited about having seen the vice president (they assume,) mom said she was a little disappointed about who they didn't see.

"I wanted to see Dr. Biden," she said, referring to the vice president's wife, Jill Biden, who is a teacher and the first wife of a vice president to hold a paying job while her husband serves in office. Whether Dr. Biden traveled some other way, or will be arriving later was not known.