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During a moving interview with Stephen Colbert on Thursday’s episode of The Late Show, Vice President Joe Biden discussed his son Beau’s death at length, and told the host how much the loss has affected his feelings on running for president in 2016.
“I don’t think any man or woman should run for president unless, No. 1, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and No. 2, they can look at the folks out there and say, ‘I promise you that you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy and my passion to do this. And I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there,” Biden said. “I’m being completely honest. Nobody has right, in my view, to seek that office unless they’re willing to give it 100 percent of who they are. I’m optimistic, I’m positive about where we’re going […] it just sometimes overwhelms you.”
Biden then recalled how he recently broke down while speaking to military families in Denver, after someone from the crowd mentioned that he had served with Beau in Iraq. “I lost it,” Biden said. “How can you? That’s not — I shouldn’t be saying this, but that … you can’t do that.”
Biden went on to praise his son, who died in May from brain cancer, for his lack of entitlement. “He went the other way. He won the Bronze Star and came home and made us all promise that we wouldn’t tell anybody he won the Bronze Star,” the vice president said. He explained how Beau treated everyone as equals, a value Biden said the family learned from his mother.
And while Biden had earlier joked that perhaps Colbert should run for president (with Biden as his vice president, of course), the host expressed his hope that the 72-year-old would enter the race precisely for the reasons conveyed during their discussion of Beau.
“This is why I think people want you to run for president. 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,” Colbert said. “I just want to say that I think that your experience and your example for suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race. Not that there aren’t good people on both sides running, but I think we’d all be very happy if you did run. If you don’t, I know that your service to the country is something we should all salute.”
Watch the full interview, in two parts, below.
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