Biden: A President In The Making, Part One
DELAWARE – Come January 20, 2021, Joe Biden, will officially become President of the United States of America. But even after the inauguration to some, he’ll still be just Joe.
“If I were to call him president, he’d probably hit me cause we used to hit each other on the shoulder if something was really bad you know,” said former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.
Part of understanding why that is comes from understanding who Joe Biden is. Especially to the people that know him best.
“He would say like ‘Tom you’re a Navy captain, you’ve been treasurer, you’ve been a congressman, now you’re Governor, what should I call you?’ and I said well Joe whenever the governor comes in to give the state of the state address in the joint session of the legislature I’m introduced as his excellency, the governor of Delaware Thomas R Carper, you could try ‘excellency’ and he said don’t hold your breath,” joked Sen. Tom Carper (D – Delaware).
47 ABC was able to sit down with four Delaware current and former lawmakers, that know the future president. U.S. Senators from Delaware Tom Carper and Chris Coons.
And former Delaware Governors Ruth Ann Minner and Jack Markell.
Among the things all of them said in common about Biden is just how genuine he is.
“I mean this is why he’s gotten a lot of publicity as being such an empathetic person, it’s real and it’s real because he cares,” said former Gov. Jack Markell.
“He’s as down to earth as any person you’ll ever meet, and he’s very sincere when he talks to you he means what he’s saying. You don’t have to worry about taking him at his word, you can always take him at his word,” said Gov. Minner.
But on top of being genuine, the other common theme, all four spoke about is just how much the former Vice President truly loves his family.
“He’s someone who is incredibly dedicated to his family, I’ve been in the middle of meetings with him. I mean casually or like in the White House where the phone rings with a certain tone and he’s up and gone. He doesn’t even say excuse me sorry, he’s up and gone because when his kids, grandkids, or wife calls him it doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he takes the call,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware). “I somehow thought he would stop doing that as Vice President of the United States. Nope. His immediate family is always able to reach him and partly that’s rooted in who he in his gut and partly it’s rooted in the experience of loss he’s had.”
The public would see some of that loss shortly after Biden was elected to Senate in 1972. A fatal car accident stealing the lives of his first wife Neilia and their 13-month-old daughter Amy and almost causing him to walk away from politics completely.
“He was resolute, he was strong. I think he came very close to walking away from it all after they died, and his family convinced him, others convinced him not to do that,” Sen. Carper said.
Instead, Biden would push through relying on friends like Gov. Minner, who was then a clerk in Legislative Hall, who had helped him campaign. But was also a widow herself.
“Every once and a while, we (would) call each other, ‘well I feel like a good cry how about you?’, so we’d have a good hard cry on the phone and then we’d be alright,” said Gov. Minner, who had lost her first husband and was then raising three kids on her own.
For Biden though, it’s not just his family that’s important. The family of his friends also are held close.
Sen. Carper shared a small example of that, recalling that the night before President Barack Obama announced his running mate, that Biden had called Sen. Carper and his wife as they were driving their son to college.
“So we’re driving along and the phone rings in my car and it’s Joe… and I thought he was calling to give me some idea of what was going to happen tomorrow and he was calling to say to Ben ‘good luck’ and to wish him well in school, to give him a little bit of advice,” said Sen. Carper. “I thought ‘whew’… that just blew us away. I still talk about it, Martha and I talked about it the other day.”
The thing about Joe though, is those connections are normal for him. Because that’s just who his friends say he is.
“Joe has never has forgotten where he’s from. He fights hard for the middle class and he connects well with people and that’s partly because of his faith, it’s partly because of being from Delaware, and it’s partly because of the life he’s lived and the way he’s lived it,” Sen. Coons said.
That’s why for so many Delawareans, November 7th, the night Biden gave his acceptance speech in Wilmington, was so special. As they watched their Joe Biden officially address the world as the next president of the United States.
“I was just overwhelmed to tell you the truth. Everybody said ‘Ruth Ann we’ve seen you so quiet’, but I said yeah but just think about what we’re doing tonight you know our Joe is going to be president,” Gov. Minner said.
“What a fantastic moment that this favorite son of Delaware, Delaware’s first ever to be elected to the presidency is going to have this opportunity and that Joe Biden and Jill Biden the Biden family that we all have gotten to know and love over all these years that rest of the world is getting to see exactly what we know,” Gov. Markell said.
One thing that all four lawmakers we spoke with also brought up, was just how much the passing of Joe Biden’s son and former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden affected him. Many thought at that time, the loss would cause him to leave politics altogether. But as Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said because Joe promised Beau that he would run, he did.
And as the president-elect has said the riots in Charlottesville were a turning point for him where he felt he could no longer stay idle.