Authors: Stella Porter and Will Keneally
Former Vice President Joe Biden visited Madison Sunday, speaking at the Orpheum on his new book and his thoughts on current politics. As part of his current book tour, Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth moderated a discussion that began with Biden speaking about his intimate relationship with family and his familiarity with loss, having lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident and later his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015. The book’s title, Promise Me, Dad, references a time after Beau’s diagnosis when he urged his dad to push forward, asking him to promise he would go on when Beau passed.
The death of his son was emotionally taxing and ultimately led Biden to decide he could not focus on a presidential campaign for 2016. While Biden supported Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and campaigned on her behalf, he said he still believes he would have been the best person to carry out the agenda he and President Obama started in 2008.
Some have speculated that this book tour is a covert attempt to measure support for a 2020 presidential run. One of the policies Biden highlighted his support for is community college free of cost for all.
Audience member and student life coordinator for Gateway Technical College in Kenosha Lindsey Kosman said an initiative such as this one would be good for the country. While Gateway already employs a special initiative for students to receive tuition, she said she would like to see a more expansive program.
“A possibility for all students, not just high school students, more adult learners coming back to school—that would be great for our community and around the United States,” Kosman said.
Biden did not shy away from questions about his potential run for president in 2020, though he said it is too early to make a decision. Darius Coleman, a student from Gateway, gathered from Biden’s comments on fighting for African-Americans that Biden would almost certainly run.
“One of the biggest ones is the racial inequality going on in America today. With him addressing that, that’s how I know he’s not done with his political career,” Coleman said.
While Biden said that if asked now, he would say no to running for president, he said things could change in the next year, during which he hopes to make a decision. He said he will make sure the decision to sit out of the 2020 race is not based in fear of losing or aversion to the work of running.