Joe Biden Gets Emotional in Gripping Stephen Colbert Interview
Veep, former Delaware Senator and son of Scranton Joe Biden got deep on the third episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. In an interview that was light on jokes and heavy on substance (watch below), Colbert and the vice president got candid and personal when discussing family loss (which both host and guest have experienced) and Biden’s will-he-or-won’t-he flirtation with a presidential run.
“Go, Joe! Go, Joe!” chanted some in the audience, to which Biden smiled, “Be careful what you wish for.”
“I’d like to address the elephant in the room — which in this case is a donkey,” quipped Colbert after discussion of the “one job” being the president’s confidant and policy advisor prepares one for. “Do you have anything to tell us?”
“I think you should run for president again,” joked Biden, nodding to Colbert’s farcical run in 2008, “and I’ll be your vice president.”
Colbert was hoping for an announcement, and Biden was struggling, clearly not prepared to make one. “I’d be lying if I said I that I knew I was there,” said Biden, referring to whether — after the devastating loss of his son Beau earlier this year — he could promise voters “my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion,” a necessary prerequisite for the job in his estimation.
Biden, who had previously lost his daughter and first wife in a 1972 Christmastime car crash, was personable and deeply human — on the verge of tears — when recounting meeting with military families recently in Denver. “It was going great,” he recounted, “All of a sudden, a guy in the back yells, ‘Major Beau Biden. Bronze Star, Sir. Served with him in Iraq.’ I lost it.”
Colbert said that Americans were inspired to the way that Biden responded to his personal tragedies, adding, “It’s going to be emotional for a lot of people if you don’t run. Your example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race.”
Biden seemed to squirm at being singled out, pointing out that he marvels at those who endure similar loss without the support system he has. “I marvel at the ability of people to absorb hurt and just get back up, and most of them do it with an incredible sense of empathy to other people.”
Biden then turned the spotlight back on Colbert — who lost his father and two older brothers in a 1974 plane crash — asking how he and his mother persevered. “How did she get up every single day?” asked Biden.
“Well, she had to take care of me,” said Colbert.
“I imagine that would be a hell of a job,” quipped Biden.
Colbert laughed, adding, “and I had to take care of her.”
Biden often circled back to his son — noting that Beau, too, was uncomfortable being singled out. Colbert recounted taping his previous program, The Colbert Report, in Iraq while Beau was serving there, and noted how reluctant the vice president’s son was to be treated any differently. “He abhorred people with a sense of entitlement,” said Biden, noting that he requested to not wear “Biden” on his uniform. Biden recounted a saying of his mother’s: “Nobody is better than you, but you’re better than nobody.”
Biden also discussed his faith: “For me, religion is an enormous sense of solace. I got to mass and I’m able to be just alone, even in a crowd. I say the rosary, i find it to be incredibly comforting.”
Biden has been gaining on Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in recent polls of likely Democrat voters. His appearance last night has been incredibly well received.
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