Former Vice President Joe Biden reflects on his political career and his personal tragedies. The vice president shares how his faith informed his toughest moments, including his decision not to run for president and the death of his beloved son Beau. He also discusses a time in his life when he lost his faith and describes the journey to get it back.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey, welcome to supersede conversations the podcast I've. We that one of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us starts right now, today on supersonic conversations former vice President Joe Biden, he speaking about his deeply personal new book promise me dad a year of hope. Hardship purpose regarded as one of the most influential vice president in history, Joe Biden, reflects on this tumultuous period of american politics. Here:
there's his family's spiritual, an emotional journey after the heartbreaking death of his son bow his resilience in the face of public scrutiny and why the decision not to run for president still ways on him. So thank you for being here, Mr Vice president.
Happy to be coming all telephone the later to be is always a pleasure. I wanted to start with the moment that we all got to see you experience on CBS. When you did the letter to yourself. I found that so moving. Last year you wrote a letter to your younger self. That starts with dear Joe you're. Stutter is debilitating embarrasses. You and the police are vicious but listen to mom. When she says bravery resides in every heart and yours is fierce and clear server. I just thought that started easy first sentence in the rest of the letter, as is,
no book justice personal. So what did coming to terms with writing this book and having to revisit all of the major moments in your life? Teach you about where you are now well, you know my mother used to say- and I thought it was so cruel at one point specially when I lost my wife and daughter and we walked out of the hospital in a tractor, trailer, broadside and killed in the my two sons or beverages. To joy Graham, had she said in a horrible, something good will come if you look cardinal for But that was my mother's, my mother's no shirt. We were taught to just dissing get up when you get knocked down just get up and and that and move forward, talk about how now so many people, without the kind of help that I had do it every day, right right today,
there's somebody is gone through something typically worse than me, and I have when he behind them and getting up and are moving and gives me such overwhelming confidence in in and people and the ability to storm drain and spiritual reassurance I'm from knowing their store part of you when you say that. That is why I'm the most important spiritual characteristics to have. That is, to keep getting up absolutely absolutely because you know it, sir, but I'm not change easy. I gotta admit to there being a couple times in my one in particular in my life, where I've actually wash my face. Where
went through a period of thinking. How could this be? I mean why, like when the? Why me peaceful and my dad, who is a wonderful, well read graceful, Highschool, educated guy since Champ, where, where is it written life, osier limit man, I know, but it doesn't make you feel any better and well when it when it makes it makes you, at least in my family. My mother thought the greatest virtue law was courage and because it allowed all the other virtues to existing from time as a kid, not a joke, I'm gonna go. Look at me. Joy, look at me. Remember you're, defined by your courage, wow, your redeemed by your loyalty, look at me Joey, and it was this notion that that you could do anything because there's this notion and in my
eighth, my family, that those you lose remain a part of you, but it's hard to get there it's hard to get to the place where a memory brings a smiling lips before brings a tune. Here. I have a hard thing to go through, but I was lucky I we said we ve been through it a few times. A lot of people In nineteen seventy two just weeks after winning his first race for Senator of Delaware, vice President Biden, first wife meal yeah and his third- Motto, daughter, Naomi were killed in a car accident, his sons, during bow were aged three and four at the time they were injured but survived in two thousand fifteen Bo Biden. decorated war, veteran and Delawares attorney general lost his battle with brain cancer. Oh was forty six years old.
But when you get that call and you're living in that space of disbelief that this is actually happened, and you think that this is the worst possible thing that ever happened to you, but you have somehow been train by your parents by belief system to look for the opportunity within every tragedy, but that doesn't come easy now, no ruler coming. I still. I still find myself when I talk about my bow, Martian I sometimes find myself say somebody I can't handle starter breakdown. So it's not like it's ever. Panama goes away, but what did what I do? I look at my grandson, his son. I see him, I look at my granddaughter. I see you and I Oh he still here. I know he still, I still with me, but when you lost Naomi here
baby daughter in the car accident. With your first wife now preparation, the shock of it, the horror of it. It's quite different. Isn't it when you have had some preparation, knowing that bow was sick for awhile or is it is different, probably per every but for me when what happened to my wife and daughter happen, I had I had a reason to live. I had a reason these two little boys who hospital and then I said at the time, I probably should never set it all. Those years ago I said I can understand how someone can be completely thoroughly saying and commit suicide. And decide that look and then, at the top of the mountain like energy,
I had an armistice salon, but but I had those two boys. and ironically abrasion meal up raising, not a joke. I mean To this day, my son Hunter, who part of my soul, We walked off out of here and he said that can get you in that you can come up and give me a kiss he's. Forty five is over smartest guy now in you me a kiss dad! You ok, dad call me ask me: they lost her mother, they law, so Reinforcement watching someone who you a door who really is putting your soul on the poor boy watching him go through with such grace, but such awful pain. Dying knowing that the likelihood that he was going to be able to survive was virtually non existent, we got the diagnosis of bow,
stage for global, stolen, the brain and so an MP, but he cares a kind of killing. She was forty five year old man, he was the attorney general in the state of Delaware. It was a bronze star, a decorated war veteran. He didn't have to go and volunteer to go for you. He volunteered to go to Costa Mesa justice. the middle of Christine WAR here, commissioner, is this this? This was a kid who assist absolutely everything about was a sense of duty and obligation to know it struck me about what I read about him is that the EU is going to a celebration of iraqi war veterans and he won't even where his now hey, wouldn't put bribe would put battles. We got a call from a general order. Erna said wow. This is in order Put your matter first time ever put em on well, when you went to Russia, that don't tell me you don't tell me
when he won the bronze more. When I tell you he didn't tell me till I got home so and when he went in to service he said I dont want to use the name. you know how they all have the avenue and now the rack and have guessed and twenty eight times. So I got to see him when he was there on three different occasions and at first he would not where they have their name. He would he got permission to wear tat have another name. I think he used Hunter his mother's made man, but he wouldn't need binding, as he did not want to be treated differently. So how did he tell you well stage, How did you hear what I was with him when he was first diagnosed with having had a stroke? He came out of the military he had. He was deem the fittest guy in is in his battalion. They do these tests that Ngos of nine percent ten percent body fathom famous
runner and one day when he was running, he started to lose a kind of hallucinate. And it worries me, they wanna tell me money and finally, he told his brother who wishes Lifeline Hunter. About it. They eventually told me in, and then one day I'm goin down the Washington after have to be at home in a week, and I my secret service agents concerned, he says he's must rise. Trade with Russia the generals down the general dumb, referring to my son attorney general, he said he's down down. I came running nice. What do you mean? He said it was a common farmers homey down. I don't know one, and so I wrote I got this house, although we might have way. I wrote him with him and he was parallel. I stand. He lost his ability. Speaking a cab got what the hell's going on and they diagnosed, and I did the MRI. they show whether clot wise
There was diagnosed initially the stroke and resolved itself long story when a boy when the next thing we turns out it was the beginning of the growth of this cancer. And so when he kept getting worse, we went down to end the Andersson in August and they diagnosed with stage for global stomach. and Hunter and Ashley and Jill? And I he NPO made a deal. We would not talk about the percentages because we had hope you just without hope. You can't live
and so I that's how I began to get knowledge about cancer. I'd try to learn everything I possibly could about the disease and prepare would do, is seemingly Sudan incident. Look at me, stop looking said. Don't look. Sad happened to be all right. Dad you ve got to look happy. You ve got to look strong family, the dead, the family needed on strong tat I'm not exaggerate- psyche he was. He was remarkable. Young men are not suggesting other people just speaking about him, he was young. It was always about everybody else.
It was my dad and expression are grown up. His teacher said Jelly, never explain and never compliant. I can say Give my words are binding never one single time. For a moment he was born ever her bovine comply or one single time. Joe Biden was born in Scranton Pennsylvania. He was raised by his mother Kathryn. His father Joseph Senior, who clean furnaces and later sold used cars the family later moved? Mayfield Delaware were, junior wash window was leading gardens. Doubt pay tuition for the prestigious arch, mere academy. Private school Joe said was his deepest desire to a ten pay would go Onto the University of Delaware and Later law school at Syracuse in Seventy two joe by was elected, Us Senator for the State of Delaware
struck by a red that ever since you were a little boy, you are a boy with a vision that you had a picture in your head of the kind of man that you wanted to be Did you live up to your own expectations? Did you fulfilled the vision or exceed the vision. By and large, I believe that I have being a man I wanted to be, but it was in terms of accomplishment? It was because people easily train tat all the young, I knew I wanted to be Senator a new one to be president, but that wasn't true. What was true was I want to live up to my parents. And I wanted to be the person that my mother,
met my mother standard being defined by my courage. I wanted to be the person who was no matter what happened just got back up and kept going. I wanted to be the person who is there and loyal to people were loyal to him. I wanted to be the one to be that guy who was knew what was worthless did you know as a little boy when you had the vision as a little boy when you have this picture in your head? What was the picture the picture, buried. As I got older when I came out it was, I realize everything I family and, in my faith, was about the abuse of power that we have an obligation to challenge the abuse of power, whether start not as a kid and civil rights movement, Man said ends being the only white employee and these signs, a city in
or whether it was you now challenging, saying things when I ran for election, that I knew or not popular, but I believe in and because I believe people over mutely reward you for authenticity. It don't you think too. This is interesting when I think about you. as everyone everybody knows, you're getting on the train every night, I'm going home and emails. worn into office actually in the hospital when your boys were were there, and so you are dedicated father going back in and forth from Delaware DC. Don't you think that, actually being on train every day goes around without funding mechanism because I remember living in Baltimore, taking the train to New York going to DC there's something about looking out the window which actually love even now, driving a car and seeing people's homes actual yeah and thinking about it. I wonder what,
eating tonight. What are they talking about their kitchen with italian way? They could you look out on that struck between Baltimore in Aberdeen yeah see all those lights on, and you wonder why are they talking about? For example, I, by the way the reason I went home is I need it like you, I mean I really did, but you know, as a parent you know, a child can only hold an important garter about twelve hours. If you mission you miss so, even though I was an icy and Harry ridden requisite dinner, I go home and lie bed with them. They talk and get up so, but the thing that was the best would happen. You'd be Washington and you'd, be a vote. You'd cross
Two should accomplish: stop the traffic and after why you begin what difference along, but you get on the train go home and the shoe shine guys a good friend of mine, Joe, what the hell you doing down there. Man come here yet may not a joke, not a joke. If you notice you ve ever been in Delaware time, I ran, I've been referred to is Joe. That's all they they don't call me shudder must. Even today the secret service looks when they go. Hey Joe compare these are constituents and they cannot cope with what's goin on here, but it really does ground you man, because they know even after becoming vice president, all absolutely so there it really keep shoe from ever getting the point where you feel self important. I know this sounds like a verbal we been released. It was a gift if it keeps you so connected to the people and where the people,
and everybody now knows how badly the media guided wrong. You must have had some inkling you must have had. You must have not have been shocked, then, on the on election night, we were actually on the train talking to people. With the people I didn't drive, as vice president, I took the train on the weekend go everyday day, but I did eighty three events. In a month out, I came back to remove the selection a month meant that And the reason I didn't know, I know I'm called middle class Joe and Washington. That's not meant, as a compliment means you're not sophisticated to know, but what was happening is the reason I believe you're going to lose and I think Hillary would have been a great president. I really do. I think she would have been a great president, but there there's two, studies it came out. One was an immerse core forget the other non poligized now, but look at all the words uttered? Campaigned how Many of those words relates to an issue.
Fewer words or other related any specific issue, this last campaign than any in the last ten president races. Now you are credibly well informed person. I'll bet you can't find ten friends who could tell you inhalers position was on childcare, not not generically, specifically right how we're going to have free college education, how it can be paid, for all the things that matter to those people and by the way wouldn't be having this discussion, but for a hundred and seventy two thousand votes was put out a perspective too, but in the states they had me going. I spent all my time in Pennsylvania, Ohio menace.
Michigan Wisconsin Florida Virginia. There are the places I wear. This is not a criticism, but I think what happened is we got to the point where it became a den in politics and they learn a wrong luscious rocks brilliant campaigns, Eureka and, for example, the invalid and I went up to a union hall to make a point- and I said you know one of the reasons Hillary has to win. There's like two thousand union guys, someone the reason ass the wind important because they need equal pay for women place, went nuts.
Y. All their wives were the the political types they don't like. The fact there wife is in paper where the wives warrant being paid fairly are incorporations in warfare. They re looking valley, but these these guys wives, are high school, educated, kids and I never got unpaid and I said, and secondly, look it's none of your business who the hell you marry man, let well enough along very chaired the sheer chairing, I'm not joking. Now they that the press, it only Biden, can do that. That's not true, you gotta state which are for, and if you get suckered into
I mean the time span and furnished oppress societies for the press to cover whether naughty groped woman or whether she sent an email than it is to determine how you pay for free college education. Then it is to go and look at whether what were you, what your position is on real tax equity- and I mean just easier it's easier and as almost like, they can't not cover it. I can't not covered, and so, if you look at all the coverage, there is hardly any coverage about the things that matter to the lives of ordinary people. You have no regret in the deepest quietus purist moments about not actually running. I have a regret that I am not president because I think there's so much opportunity. I think America's so in
notably welfare, should, but I don't regret the decision I made because was the right decision for family Oprah, no woman in me sure now surrounding from press. Unless they can answer two questions. One today We believe that the most qualified person for that moment, I believed I was but I prepared to be able to give my whole heart my whole soul, in all my intention to the endeavour- and I knew I was well- you still broken- my family was broken. I was broke and I find myself even like you know. This is why sexism campaign I'd be speaking somewhere in somebody widen and I say bow and I'd, find myself breaking down. People say would be a good father Hilary broke down, they would have said she's playing the woman card, so it was
I use new. I just thought you ve gotta, beaten Hilary I've but it would have been an incredibly difficult race and I have nothing but friendship for Hilary. Why did you not want to take that on? Because when every one was getting excited about, you passed the possibility of you joining the right There was also, obviously a lot of speculation that you wouldn't want to get in and take on. The Clinton fact: coherent speculation, you're right about that got a speculation, as Biden wouldn't want to be the guide denying women are average. My son was I I couldn't tell anybody the only person I could confiding with Morocco.
the only one had to know so what I wasn't able to Hillary. As I said as a friend wheeze when she was secretary of state, we had breakfast once a week at my home, so she called me and she wanted it. I'm sure she doesn't mind my saying this. mission want to come down and talk about race. You want to know what I was going to run again, I sat down. I said her Hilary look as stop as much less likely that I run the not wrong. What I do me straight up is not about you. It's about me big. What what we had some hope, because I was told that they did I did to try some experimental yours I'm dealing with clear, blessed home where they think they injected him with a thing called Anti pity one and they inject a virus into his brain and arrest. This one faint possibility, so I gave you hope for how long will we never gave up hope, but it was we,
We thought in January, I thought in January February there was a twenty five percent chance. Maybe we beat the odds, but what I couldn't do because it would have he wouldn't kill me. If I announced I wasn't running because my son, because he wanted me to run it, when did he tell you to run because that became, I thought you were gonna run just because of bows wish that you would run every thanksgiving for forty two years since I met you, we would go to to Nantucket for Thanksgiving when our little boys, so we wouldn't friend her parents, my parents, undermined decease, watch, perish they want more. So, as are those of this nuclear holiday. Now sixteen stretch up every, and so we were in Nantucket and wounded. The Christmas lightning bolt was sick and he said dad we gotta talk and we went back
to the house, were staying in and sat down and said. You'd understand that we want you to run. This is, bow and hunt argue this will keep the family together. It will give us purpose, but I just didn't: have the courage to do it. I just don't think I can say that the public that it now This is I'm not going to divert when my Oh grandson says you smell like daddy. Can I lie down with you? You know By the way, a lot of people have that, but as our president, why can't I knew I could now they did make any demand. The whole family got together even after both past and said you ve gotta, run.
Joe Chill one meter, but in the end the decision was no, because what you didn't happy eyes, the tighter didn't I didn't know the tiger. I knew that I wished to sew on his mission in so that I didn't think I could do the job. after due butter, but that's not saying to our regret, not being president, I I do when I made the right decision for my family. I believe at that time and
I thought that we had a really incredibly qualified candidates. To me presence I didn't feel like I was leaving the field and because I left it feel that their wasn't anybody who could run the country. I didn't feel that way. How can you help us as a nation ring dignity? Back to our conversations, I heard you speak about this by acting with dignity by not by not getting down a marsh So from a bigger point of view, social, spiritual point of view where we are as a nation as a culture of people. How bad is it you anything? I don't think it's
let me tell, I think, the underlying cause and anxious and goes beyond politics where going through such a gigantic transition. The consequence of station supercomputing capability, artificial intelligence, the ability to do things that were to be done by an individual. No longer having to be done can be done by machine escape turn the living of people, my dad you Samuel Express enjoy job, is about a lot more in the paycheck. It's about your dignity, respect, Your place, security, women look kid. The ice is gonna, be ok, national jobs about it. So now you have tens of thousands of people, millions of people black anyway. Looking out there, during the debate going on about globalization and the question is: how do you just that globalization to meet people's needs? So has there been a thought or consideration for twenty twenty, no
No, and I say that not yet being I look, I'm I'm a great respect, her fate, I don't plan on running, but I tell you what I plan on going and here's my problem. Can I learned come and was popular elected officials in the United States. Now do not run it repressed. I think that is good, but I am asked to speak a lot in political for and I'm doing it not as nearly as often as mass, because every time ass they say they tracy that I'm running for president, but I'm gonna do everything I can to chase a dynamic here, because I think we can win back the house where he shouted the Senate and ethics.
my dad users look, don't confirming the almighty confirming the alternative. I look awful good. I can go out and do that raise money in do those things, but I'm not sitting here now, I'm, as I said, a great respect, your fate, I'm I'm over. Seventy I'm thank God. Right now, often good health- I you know so I promise I'm not doing anything to organise running, I'm gonna go out there and continue to do what I've done since twenty six years, all holler. What is it? Do you think that it's about power that changes people and how have you manage the power you ve held well, I haven't held them much, our oh, my power. The reason I'm viewed as having manpower is all there is no power in the vice premier. Since all reflective comes from the press, and I think the reason people abuse power is that they in fact are.
just by the notion that the that they are so self important that they really matter when, in fact it is not used? in the case the where only there's the leader, I'm observed you're the best are the ones who have the courage to take a chance willing the loose on principle and to self aware, we understand their strengths and I understand and weaknesses they play their strengths and they try to shore up their weaknesses and and the people don't the people aren't self aware enough to know what their, because, most of the time that abuse ends up in their downfall as well.
We see so much on the news every day, rage and anger on both sides. What do you think is the source of all this wage and fewer? Well, I think it's because they think the system has failed. I think they look out the Congress who travel Ashton's, Paraca elected the first thing we re. Probably they wish I. How can we keep? from succeeded in showing congressmen city at eleven percent, when I was in the Congress we're more divided, but we were. We actually knew there had to be worked together to get consensus to get things done. I also think they look out at the political sense, I think that they are powerless their powerless, because it this money and power to influence votes, influence outcomes. What are you most proud of jobs? I most proud of at least two, this point of having
as long as I did and Democrats and Republicans still accepting my word and tree me as if I'm animal, I am proud, being able to say that I never voted for anything that I disagree with what I was saying. I think about it. I'd look whenever my constituents want, I will vote for, but I never voted for anything that I was then I thought was what was wrong now that you ve had time to write a book and reflect on your life and decisions. Do you think differently about that moment when President Obama was giving you the metal of freedom which struck me about that moment? Is you kept saying? I don't deserve this and I was thinking. Of course you deserve. now that I still think look right to come. I hope decent man, I hope I've done some good butter.
We are learning or you know, or I think I know I don't hour, but I think that other people, but more deserving than me really through undo. What does your definition of freedom? Is? It pertains to your own life continuing to be able to say what I believe without fear of anything other than significant disagreement, knowing that I still live in a country where I can say or do whatever. I believe and it will be protected. What is the one thing? People want to hear the end of their lives with regard to show you a good meal, real good woman
I know that at the end of their lives, then it was worthwhile that people will love them. That's why? But, anyway, that's why that's? Why so important to tell your mother Father die if you have a chance to be with that's, why so important to view them and tell them tell them all by how much you love tell them how much they Did you talk to them ass? One of the great things I've got to do with my mother and father and and and my son bow, how is their homeless hate, and I mean you Know- was at last moment he looked at me and he said I'm afraid, I'm ok
I always where this rosary, he had an odd at that time. It was sir, brother wishes to know the three of us were wholly dance and them. I want to reassure us, but we ve got a chance to tell him. Gonna change. To tell my mom, we gonna change it to my dad. Is that a shapeless wholly moment? Is that what what happens in that moment, when you can literally see the Spirit goes someplace is that it is. It is that's what the soldiers look gummy!
The soul is eternity, the saw his redemption, the soul is the place for forgiveness habits. The soul is this. Why are you continue to live? I mean, I know my boys with me. I know my daughter. and his wife, his brother and his mother. No, he still with us. You know my number two grand on our feeling in hand, I walked out. There The hallway way would last doctors told us what to expect it, and my five grandchildren were taught me three honest, and I heard you say W W beanie honey. What's that,
for this talk was made sure we will. What would motor boat do you know you have to get to the point I did Colbert show a while ago, and it was much more revealing. Never. Dissipated was gonna, be I saw that have I came home. I myself said dad now you ve talked about boy, Now it is time we talk about white boy. One of us to do now is the time for us to talk about what bow. watts not about our laws and about what he wants. What would he be? Do
I find real south, so small family, so the way both die. The dignity in the grace in which he held onto to the last breath actually ended up being a powerful force, a light for the way you now get to live absolute for my whole family and the whole a whole firm and now for all of us, because we get to hear historic. Well, you know there's a lot of again. I always think I feel self conscious about talking about this is that I dont want people think seek asylum, only me about people's about is idle. I don't think you know what people feel they feel me too. I also because there is there Top yeah really is thank you for being here thank likes RAM. Thank you, I'm Aubrey
free and you ve been listening to supersede conversations the you can supersonic on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, if you haven't yet go to apple podcast, unsubscribe rate and review of this plant gas join me next week for another supersede conversation. Thank you for listening.
Transcript generated on 2020-10-09.