Richmond, Virginia (CNN) – Joe Biden's final campaign rally, held outside a Civil War museum in the capital of battleground Virginia, provided the vice president an opportunity to hark back to the first election that put him on the national political scene, four decades ago.
"I got elected when I was a 29-year-old kid to the Senate," Biden said in the closing minutes of his speech. "I was characterized as a young idealist. You read about me now in the major press, I'm always referred to as the White House optimist."
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The ensuing years in national politics haven't left him jaded, Biden said, telling a revved up crowd of 1,200 in downtown Richmond that his optimism hadn't faded.
"I am more optimistic today, and I mean this sincerely, my word as a Biden, I am more optimistic today about the future of this country than I was when I got elected as a 29-year-old kid," he said.
The event marked the end of a day of campaigning in Virginia, including a trip to Roanoke to deliver pizzas to campaign workers there. At the local Obama for America office, Biden said the country needed to unite after Tuesday's election, no matter the victor.
"When this election is over, we've got to come together in the same way I've watched the president bring everyone together in the aftermath of Sandy, the storm," Biden said.
The vice president's final contribution to the 2012 campaign trail wasn't all forward-looking pleasantries, however. His speech took harsh aim at GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, labeling the pair "shameless" for what he said was a pattern of changing positions for political ends. His introducers, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and former Gov. Tim Kaine (the Democratic Senate candidate in Virginia) also drew sharp contrasts between their part and Republicans.
The evening's entertainment, singer John Mellencamp, also changed the lyrics to one of his hits, singing before Biden took the stage to "Give the middle class a chance to win and not go back to the old ways again." Actress Meg Ryan, Mellencamp's girlfriend, was spotted nodding along.
But the vision Biden introduced at the end of his speech was distinctly less partisan, calling for a collaboration between politicians to fix the most pressing problems facing the nation.
"It's time to replace unyielding ideology with principled compromise," Biden said. "Ladies and gentlemen, I believe most Democrats and Republicans are prepared to do just that. We have absolute confidence in the American people and we are determined, Barack and I, to level the playing field for the middle class, give them a fighting chance."