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Former VP Joe Biden speaks on grief, his political future in Madison visit

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

As a part of a nationwide tour, former Vice President Joe Biden gave an emotional talk at The Orpheum on finding meaning in the loss of his son and his cultivation of optimism in the face of crisis.

After a family dinner, Beau Biden, who passed away in 2015 after being diagnosed with brain cancer, took his father aside to talk.

“Dad, I’m gonna be alright no matter what,” the elder Biden remembers him saying. “Promise me that you’ll be OK. Promise me, Dad.”

Biden, who would title his new book Promise Me, Dad after his son’s request, regaled a crowded Madison venue with countless instances of dignity and strength by his late son, the former attorney general of Delaware.

“Beau could always chase away my fears, I could always look to my sons as a source of confidence,” Biden said. “We haven’t given up hope because he’s still with us.”

Biden, who lost his first wife and one-year-old daughter to a car accident in 1972, is no stranger to loss, and encouraged the crowd to find meaning in tragedy.

“When you’re giving, it does something to you,” the former VP said. “When you find a purpose, you know you can find your way out of the grief.”

After recounting the development of his friendship with former President Barack Obama, the conversation quickly turned to Biden’s future and the possibility of a presidential bid in 2020, which was met with an uproar of applause from the audience.

“Right now, no,” Biden said.

Talking about the difficulty of making the decision to seek the Oval Office, Biden recounted a speaking event after Beau’s death, where he remembered a military veteran declaring respect and love for his late son.

“I disassembled, like somebody had hit me with a baseball bat,” Biden recalled. “That’s when I realized, nobody should look you in the eyes and say they want to be your president unless they can say you have their full attention, all of their heart. I couldn’t.”

Biden said he would seriously consider a presidential run it over the next year before coming to a final decision.

Though his political future remains unclear, Biden did not stray away from giving the audience his take on the political developments of the day.

“If we can give a tax cut for race horses, why can’t we give one for those with children in daycare?” Biden said on the Senate’s recent passage of a controversial tax reform bill. “And since when are the investors the only job creators? We don’t talk about the middle class anymore.”

Condemning what he considers to be a failure to listen to one another, the former VP voiced criticism for the divisiveness he observes happening in politics today.

“It’s time for us to get up, man. Just get up, take back this country and lead the world,” Biden declared.

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