Joe Biden Tells Stephen Colbert He's Not Sure If He's Emotionally Ready to Run for President
The vice president also remembered his son, Beau, who recently died of brain cancer, in an emotional interview.
Stephen Colbert was more than halfway through his nearly 20-minute emotional interview with Joe Biden on Thursday night's Late Show when the host asked the vice president, who's considering running for president, about the "elephant in the room, which in this case is a donkey."
Asked simply about his "plans," Biden first joked that Colbert should run for president again and that he would be Colbert's vice president. But, in all seriousness, Biden said that following the loss of his son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in May, he's not sure if he's emotionally ready for another White House bid.
"I don't think any man or woman should run for president unless they, number one, know exactly why they want to be president and, two, they can look at folks out there and say, 'I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy and my passion to do this.' I'd be lying if I said I knew that I was there," Biden told Colbert. "I'm being completely honest. Nobody has a right, in my view, to seek that office unless they're willing to give it 110 percent of who they are. And I am, as I said, I'm optimistic, I'm positive about where we're going. But I find myself — you understand it — sometimes it just overwhelms you."
Biden recalled how he recently broke down during a visit to a Colorado military base when one of the service members shouted out his son's name and that he served with Beau in Iraq.
"All of a sudden, I lost it," Biden said. "How could you — that's not — I shouldn't be saying this: You can't do that."
Biden spent much of the interview talking about Beau and how he's dealt with the loss of his son and, earlier, the loss of his first wife and baby daughter in a car accident. During the somber conversation, the vice president repeatedly looked down at his hands, cleared his throat and otherwise indicated he was still somewhat emotionally raw. Toward the beginning of the interview, when Colbert offered his condolences for the loss of Beau, Biden's voice broke a bit as he said, "Thank you."
The vice president shared a number of stories about his children, frequently recalling his own parents' expressions, a tic Colbert picked up on, noting that his mother "had so many expressions."
Remembering Beau, Biden said, "My son was better than me…in almost every way."
And he talked about Beau's selfless, modest personality, recalling a particular example of this, shortly before Beau died.
"A couple of months before he died, I was at his house, he said, 'Dad, sit down I want to talk to you…I know how much you love me…you gotta promise me something, promise me you're going to be all right because no matter what happens, I'm going to be all right.' … This is a kid who, I don't know what it was about him, he had this enormous sense of empathy," Biden said.
Biden also talked about how his faith has given him "an enormous sense of solace," and how he's learned from his family that following tragedies, "You just gotta get up."
"I would feel like I was letting down Beau, letting down my parents, letting down my family, if I didn't just get up," he told Colbert. "You just gotta get up. Think about all of the people you know who are going through horrible things and they get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and they don't have anything like the support I have…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."
In closing, Colbert indicated he hoped Biden entered the race.
"Sir, I just want to say that I think your experience and example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race," Colbert said. "I think we'd all be very happy if you did run and if you don't, I know that your service to the country is something we should all salute. So thank you so much."