Former Vice President Joe Biden takes a selfie with students in Sloopy’s Diner at the Ohio Union on Oct. 29. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

There normally isn’t a ton of pressure in making a milkshake.

Sure, it’s important to make sure the order is correct and the instructions are followed, but college students won’t often complain about the quality.

However, on Monday, the patrons were different. Instead of a student donning scarlet and gray, it was a 75-year-old man in a white dress shirt with rolled-up sleeves, black pants held up by an American flag-covered belt and purple tie. Accompanying him, another man with a navy blue suit, red tie and blue shirt.

The pair — former Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic candidate for Ohio governor Richard Cordray — wanted milkshakes.

“I was literally saying to Harley, ‘I hope he likes my milkshake. I made it with all my love,’” fourth-year Lee Cormany said while with her co-worker, Harley Hamilton.

On a surprise campaign stop at Ohio State to support his fellow Democrat, Biden entered through the conference room attached to the back of Sloopy’s and made his way around the diner.

The former vice president talked to everyone: students grabbing lunch, cooks, dishwashers, managers, cashiers. Everything seemed to halt as he made his rounds, with Tapingo orders piling up and guests waiting for a seat either standing or sitting out on the stools and in red and white striped booths.

“It was wild. He was so nice,” Hamilton, a fourth-year in biology, said. “He was much more personable and touchy than I was expecting, but I appreciated it.”

Biden and Cordray claimed their milkshakes — black and white for Biden, chocolate for Cordray — and returned to the middle of the campus diner, with Biden sitting on a stool by the counter and Cordray standing feet behind.

For the next 15 minutes, the pair fielded questions from the half-circle of students, encouraging people to vote for the Democratic candidate for governor, though not directly addressing Cordray’s Republican opponent, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. According to a recent poll, Cordray, who was director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under former President Barack Obama, is ahead of DeWine 46-40 with a margin of error of 4.4.

DeWine’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

“If you just eliminated that one loophole, you could pay for every single solitary student in America to go to community college free, cut in half the cost of their four years of college and increase productivity by two-tenths of 1 percent a year.”—former Vice President Joe Biden

Chief among student concerns were questions addressing student loan debt and mental health services.

Biden said his three kids — all of whom have gone to both private universities and then on to graduate school — left with significant student debt, ranging between $96,000 and $140,000. It is because of this, he said, he’s passionate about reducing student loans.

He provided a pair of recommendations for how to reduce, if not altogether eliminate, student debt: Lowering interest rates on student loans so they are as low as possible and giving students free tuition at a state university if their family income is under $100,000.

There are also several tax loopholes Biden said could be eliminated to save the government money that instead could be invested in free tuition for students, adding that the cost of community college for every qualified student in America would cost just $6 billion a year. One loophole he cited would reduce government spending by $17 billion per year.

“You buy $100,000 in stock and sell it for [$200,000], you pay capital gains on [$100,000]. But if God forbid you get hit by a truck on the way to selling them, you leave it to your daughter or son, you pay nothing,” Biden said. “It’s not an inheritance tax, it’s a tax owed 12 seconds earlier. If you just eliminated that one loophole, you could pay for every single solitary student in America to go to community college free, cut in half the cost of their four years of college and increase productivity by two-tenths of 1 percent a year.”

The discussion immediately turned to addressing mental health services in the state, an issue that has been prevalent on Ohio State’s campus in recent years.

Cordray said he hopes to implement wraparound services — mental health treatment that focuses on getting to know the families and patients in particular and develop individualized plans — in all states, something that has begun to be established in Cincinnati and Cuyahoga County.

Biden then bridged the discussions on mental health and tuition costs, saying that he and Cordray discussed post-traumatic stress disorder training for nurses at universities and community colleges to help veterans with treatment.

“Nurses are badly needed, and by the way, for a guy who’s spent seven months in the hospital and lost a son who spent a year in the hospital, if there’s any angels in heaven, they’re all nurses,” Biden said. “They’re incredible. Most incredible, underrated profession in the world.”

Asked about the difference between Cordray and DeWine, Biden said he likes DeWine, but doesn’t believe the Republican candidate will take a firm stance against his GOP colleagues or President Donald Trump even if he disagrees with their position.

“I think there’s a need for my Republican friends in Congress and the Republican governors around the country to stand up and begin to speak out on some of the things that I can’t believe they think the president is doing that makes sense,” Biden said.

Of course, Biden was again asked to address his 2020 plans, when the Democrats will be seeking a presidential nominee. He has been considered among the potential frontrunners for the nomination should he run in 2020, but has yet to confirm his plans one way or another.

“I know I have to make up my mind at the beginning of the year,” Biden said. “I will do it then and it will be a family decision. We’re trying to put things back together after the loss of my son.”