early and often

Biden’s Endearing, Emotional Colbert Interview May Signal That He’s Not Running

Stephen talks with Vice President Joe Biden, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Thursday Sept 10, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS ©2015CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved
Joe Biden on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Between highlighting women’s issues and advocating for a minimum-wage increase in appearances with New York officials on Thursday, Joe Biden was still acting very much like a potential presidential candidate. There was some speculation that the vice-president might announce his 2016 run during his Late Show appearance on Thursday night, but instead his interview with Stephen Colbert was a candid and emotional discussion of how he’s coping with the recent death of his son Beau, and his uncertainty over launching another presidential bid.

Biden already revealed his general stance on a 2016 run, saying earlier this month that he’s still deciding if he and his family “have the emotional energy to run.” When Colbert asked Biden if he had anything he’d like to announce, the Veep teased the audience with a “yes” and a long pause. “Think you should run for president again, and I’ll be your vice-president,” he told Colbert.

Taking a serious tone, Biden reiterated that he’ll only run if he can tell voters, “I promise you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion.” He continued, “I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there. I’m being completely honest. Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are.”

That’s almost exactly what Biden said the last two times he publicly addressed the issue, but what made this version different was his detail and honesty about how much he’s struggling with Beau’s death from brain cancer in May. In the first segment, Biden appeared teary-eyed as he shared touching stories about his son, saying that if having a child who’s better than you is a reflection of your parenting skills, “I was a hell of a success. My son was better than me. He was better than me in every way.”

Biden never ruled out a run, but he didn’t seem like a man likely to announce his wholehearted commitment to a presidential campaign within the next three weeks. He recalled a recent meeting with members of the military and their families in Denver. “It was going great,” he said, “and a guy in the back yells, ‘Major Beau Biden. Bronze Star, Sir. Served with him in Iraq.’ And all of a sudden I lost it. How could you — I shouldn’t be saying this — but you can’t do that. You can’t do that.”

Still, Colbert — who, as Biden noted, knows loss after his father and two brothers died in a plane crash when he was young — ended the interview by encouraging the vice-president to run. “I know that’s an emotional decision you have to make, but it’s going to be emotional for a lot of people if you don’t run,” he said. “I think that your experience and your example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race.”

Biden Questions 2016 Run in Colbert Interview