Vice President Joe Biden at DMACC.

Vice President Joe Biden at DMACC.

Republican Governor Terry Branstad and Vice President Joe Biden had a private meeting Thursday at the Des Moines Airport.

“First of all, I was honored that he invited me to come on Air Force II, not just meet the plane, but actually come on,” Branstad said this morning. “I had a very nice conversation with him. I invited him to come to the Ag Summit.”

That’s the March 7 event being organized by Bruce Rastetter, an agribusinessman who is the biggest contributor to Branstad’s past two campaigns. Branstad said Biden told him he’d give it “serious consideration.” Branstad also offered to help put out the welcome met for an international visitor from China.

“We talked about President Xi Jinping,” Branstad said. “He has gotten to know him quite well and met with him several times. They’ve announced he’ll be coming to America some time this year. The date has not been set. I pointed out — and the vice president knew this — that his first trip to America was to Iowa, that we’re old friends and I offered whatever help we can provide in hosting him, whether it’s as a state dinner in D.C. or something in Iowa.”

Branstad wound up getting a tour.

“He also said, ‘Well, why don’t you go up and meet the captain?'” Branstad said. “…So we went to the cockpit of the plane.”

Biden mentioned the visit during his speech about an hour later at Drake.

“The plane landed and the governor, Terry Branstad, a Republican who’s a friend of mine was there to greet me on the runway and to come up into Air Force II,” Biden said. “That’s how it used to be, I mean, for real. My closest friends for years and years in the United States Senate…are a lot of my Republicans colleagues . We disagree, but are never disagreeable and I might just note for the press that it was very gracious of the governor to come to welcome me back to Iowa and I appreciate it a great deal.”

Branstad, in turn, uses the word “gracious” to describe Biden.

“I was on Air Force I with Ronald Reagan in 1984, so this was a nice treat and I was very appreciative and he was very gracious,” Branstad said.

Branstad made his comments this morning during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press” that will air this evening at 7:30.

Branstad has been making calls to Republican presidential candidates, too, inviting them to the upcoming Iowa Ag Summit and just this past Monday secured New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s attendance. Branstad said he’s doing it “because agriculture is very important to the state’s economy.”