Beau Biden, the 46-year-old son of Vice President Joe Biden and former attorney general of Delaware, has died of brain cancer. In a statement released Saturday night, his father called him "quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known."
In 2008, Beau gave his father a touching introduction at the Democratic National Convention. He talked about Joe's ambivalence about returning to Washington as Delaware's 30-year-old senator after his wife and daughter died in a tragic car accident. Joe did eventually decide to serve, and was sworn into office at the hospital bedside of Beau, who had been critically injured in the same crash.
"As a single parent, he decided to be there to put us to bed, to be there when we woke from a bad dream, to make us breakfast, so he'd travel to and from Washington, four hours a day," Beau said in his 2008 remarks.
A full transcript of that speech follows below.
Good evening, I'm Beau Biden. And Joe Biden is my dad.
Many of you know him as a distinguished and accomplished senator. I know him as an incredible father and a loving grandfather. A man who hustled home to Delaware after the last vote so he wouldn't miss me and my brother's games. Who, after returning from some war-torn region of the world, would tiptoe into our room and kiss us goodnight. Who turns down some fancy cocktail party in Washington so he won't miss my daughter Natalie's birthday party.
The truth is, he almost wasn't a senator at all. In 1972, shortly after his improbable victory, but before he took the oath of office, my father went to Washington to look at his new office space. My mom took us to go buy a Christmas tree. On the way home, we were in an automobile accident. My mom, Neilia, and sister, Naomi, were killed. My brother, Hunter, and I were seriously injured and hospitalized for weeks. I was just short of 4 years old. One of my earliest memories was being in that hospital, Dad always at our side. We, not the Senate, were all he cared about.
He decided not to take the oath of office. He said, "Delaware can get another senator, but my boys can't get another father." However, great men like Ted Kennedy, Mike Mansfield, Hubert Humphrey — men who had been tested themselves — convinced him to serve. So he was sworn in, in the hospital, at my bedside. As a single parent, he decided to be there to put us to bed, to be there when we woke from a bad dream, to make us breakfast, so he'd travel to and from Washington, four hours a day.
Five years later, he married my mom, Jill. They together rebuilt our family. And 36 years later, he still makes that trip. So even though Dad worked in Washington, he's never been part of Washington. He always sounded like the kid from Scranton, Pa., he is. And even that is a story of overcoming.
Now some people poke fun at my dad talking too much. What a lot of people don't know is that when he was young, he had a severe stutter. The kids called him Dash — not because he was fast on the football field, which he was, but like a dash at the end of a sentence you can't finish. But now he speaks with a clear and strong voice. He says what needs to be said. And he does what needs to be done.
When domestic violence was often a dark secret, Dad wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which gave countless women support, protection, and a new chance at life. When crime was spiking in our communities, Dad wrote the crime bill that put 100,000 cops on the streets and led to an eight-year drop in crime across the country. When Serbian thugs were committing genocide in the Balkans, Dad didn't hesitate to call Slobodan Milosevic a war criminal to his face, and to convince Congress and our allies to act. He's willing to speak truth to power: to the White House and to world leaders.
I know my father will be a great vice president. As I mentioned, my dad has always been there for me, my brother, and my sister, every day. But because of other duties, it won't be possible for me to be here this fall to stand by him the way he stood by me. So I have something to ask of you. Be there for my dad like he was for me.
Be there for Barack Obama because our country needs him. Be there for both of them because millions of families need to know that their best days aren't behind them, but ahead of them. Be there for both of them because millions of people are trying to overcome, just like my dad overcame. Be there. Be there because Barack Obama and Joe Biden will deliver America the change we so desperately need. Please join me in welcoming my friend, my father, my hero, and the next vice president of the United States: Joe Biden.