Joe Biden’s Raw, Emotional Interview With Stephen Colbert Is Riveting Television

The vice president, stripped bare by grief, speaks about Beau, faith, and the 2016 race.

"I would feel like I'd let Beau down if I didn't just get up."CBS/YouTube

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At one point, Stephen Colbert’s third-night audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan broke into a chant: “Joe, Joe, Joe!”

“Be careful what you wish for!” Vice President Joe Biden joked, his famous smile flashing to applause. It’s little wonder the audience was responding in this way. Biden was giving perhaps the most frank, intimate, and emotional interview a politician has given in recent memory—a major score for Colbert’s new show, and a rare chance for Americans to see their second-in-command speak so eloquently about grief, faith, and family.

The newsiest part of The Late Show interview on CBS was, of course, Biden telling Colbert that he didn’t feel like he was emotionally ready to run for president in 2016 after the recent death from brain cancer of his son Beau. (Biden has reportedly been exploring a run for the White House with donors and supporters in recent weeks.)

“I don’t think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and two, they can look at folks out there and say, ‘I promise you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion,'” Biden said. “And, and, 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.”

But there was so much more to this interview, littered as it was with wise quotes from Biden’s mother and characterized by a mutual warmth between two men that have suffered great tragedies in their lives. (Colbert lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash.) But the most emotional and revealing parts were when Biden spoke about his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in May: “I was a hell of a success. My son was better than me. He was better than me in every way.”

Watch below:

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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