Joe Biden received mild applause for wishing family a ‘great Thanksgiving’ at Nantucket’s Christmas tree lighting

Former Vice President Joe Biden was met with cheers when he made his way to the Nantucket Christmas tree lighting Wednesday night. A slight amount of criticism was directed at Mr. Biden for a tweet that has since been deleted.

During his first public appearance since announcing his decision to not run for president in July, Mr. Biden stopped by Clove Sweets Shoppe. That tweet was taken down from his account after it drew opposition, but not for a long enough time for many to catch on: the backlash was sent out on Twitter when the tweet was just a few hours old. The tweet offered a satirical — though slightly self-deprecating — observation about his family, and his failing candidacy.

Thank you to all who have reached out to me on Twitter & elsewhere with your stories of honoring Family traditions. One of my most treasured are as I fondly recall the years sharing cookies & laughs at the Christmas Tree Lighting in Nantucket. So glad to be there tonight with my 3 kids, Nelson & Hunter & Charlie. All great smiles! — Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 3, 2018

Why did Mr. Biden delete his tweet, and why did he so quickly remove it? Political staffers declined to comment, and his office also declined to offer comment. But the timing of the deleted tweet and the criticism directed at it gave indication that his intention was to largely distance himself from the tweet itself and, in part, the criticism of it.

And that remained the case, with Mr. Biden on Tuesday deleting a tweet in which he defended his sons’ tweets in support of gay marriage.

But also Wednesday, Mr. Biden appeared to be back in more casual mode. He headed to the Nantucket Christmas tree lighting at Waterside Village, a waterfront business that sells alcohol and runs casual restaurants.

Mr. Biden was joined by his sons, vice president of administration Tommy Vietor and former White House staff director of policy planning Steve Ricchetti. They dined at Waterside Pavilion, the restaurant that also operated that evening.

Mr. Biden tweeted out a photo of himself smiling, standing next to Mr. Vietor and an unnamed female friend, to accompany a photo showing him wearing a festive sweater and eating a Christmas cookie while standing in front of the Christmas tree with the words “wishing you a great Thanksgiving.”

The Obama family have long been a favorite on Nantucket, and also Mr. Biden’s preferred holiday weekend to be there, according to Bill Goffman, a longtime Biden friend. But, said Mr. Goffman, who traveled to Nantucket from Washington with Mr. Biden on Wednesday, the former vice president’s purpose this year was different from last. He was there to visit friends, not to celebrate with the Obamas.

“This is Joe’s Christmas. He’s just spending time with his close friends,” Mr. Goffman said. “He’s not doing anything but greeting people in his home in the home that he’s built.”

This story has been updated to include background on the unofficial Christmas tree lighting at Nantucket’s Waterside Plaza.

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