Julie Pike, News Editor
While making no indications of future plans to run for president in 2020, Biden joined in a discussion with former Sen. George Mitchell centered around his new memoir, “Promise Me Dad, A Year of Hope Hardship and Purpose.”
The former vice president made a stop at Merrill Auditorium in Portland on his American Promise tour. On his tour Biden was promoting his recent book, which chronicles his experience as his son Beau, who served as the Attorney General in Delaware, as his lost his battle to brain cancer.
The discussion between the two followed a question and answer format. Mitchell inquired about a variety of topics with Biden, including his family life, his time in the U.S. government and his plans for the future. Biden was introduced by a short video montage, chronicling his life from childhood years to his time as vice president. The video ended with a focus on Beau’s life and tragic death.
Biden addressed his motivation for writing his memoir, which he finished within a year.
“I wanted people… to know what a remarkable man Beau Biden was,” Biden said. “I didn’t want it to be about grief.”
In the 36 years Biden served on the Senate, as well as the two terms as vice president under Barack Obama, he faced multiple instances of death in the family. In his first years in the Senate his first wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident.
While Biden touched on topics of his past life, he also addressed the crowd about current issues. Biden was in the midst of telling a story of his mother, who he claims instilled the values he follows to this day, when the topic was steered to the situation of women in the U.S. by Mitchell.
Biden has been an active participant in working to end violence against women, he started the Biden Foundation with his family to work towards just that. In 1990, when Biden was serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he drafted the Violence Against Women Act. The act passed in 1994 and allowed for more funding in local communities to address domestic and sexual violence and to raise awareness of the problem.
“There is this underlying sexism that is a cultural problem… but we are in the midst of a cultural change.” Biden then addressed men on college campuses, encouraging them to speak up if they see anyone abusing women.
During the 90 minute discussion Biden and Mitchell addressed both difficult issues as well as lighthearted stories. Biden spoke about his relationship with Obama as well as what compelled him to run as vice president. He joked about the widespread popularity their relationship had spurred on the internet.
“All of those memes are true,” Biden said. “He made the first friendship bracelet though, not me.”
Initially Biden turned down the opportunity to run as vice president with Obama, but Obama wouldn’t take no for an answer. He encouraged Biden to talk it over with his family, who were all in favor of Biden running. In the end it was Biden’s mother who convinced him to do it. Even after their two terms together, Biden stated that their two families remain close and that Obama will always be one of his closest friends.
“When Beau was dying, I couldn’t tell anyone else but Barack,” Biden said. “There has never been a president and vice president closer.”
To end the discussion Mitchell asked Biden about his plans for the future. Biden and his family are devoting their time to their multiple foundations, including the Biden Foundation and the Biden Cancer Initiative, which works to progress cancer research, prevention and care.
To conclude the event Biden addressed the crowd, “I believe you are going to see a big change in the next election.” A woman in the crowd answered him by yelling, “run Joey, run!”