Vice President Joe Biden visited the Late Show With Stephen Colbert for an emotional, uplifting 20-minute interview Thursday night where he talked about a potential presidential run, faith and the loss of his son Beau. Stephen Colbert first commended Biden for being that rare politician that speaks what he believes and doesn’t hide behind a façade.
“What always confuses me about some folks I worked with is why in God’s name would you want the job if you couldn’t say what you believe,” Biden said. “You would want a job that, in fact, every day you had to get up and modulate what you said and believe. If you’re going to run, you’re running for a reason, and you want the job for a reason, and if you can’t state why you want the job, there’s a lot more lucrative opportunities other places.” Colbert joked back, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to spend nine years pretending to be somebody that you’re not.”
However, the bulk of the first portion of the interview was dedicated to Biden’s son Beau, who passed away in May after battling brain cancer. The vice president poignantly shared stories about his son, who faced tragedy at a young age after being in a car accident that claimed the lives of his mother and sister and severely injured his younger brother. Biden explained how his deep faith guides him through tragedy, and Colbert credits Biden with overcoming the heartbreak and working toward the betterment of America.
“My mom had an expression. She’d say, ‘As long as you’re alive, you have an obligation to strive, and you’re not dead until you’ve seen the face of God,'” Biden said. “It really, really has been imbued in me, my siblings, my mother, my grandfather. No one owes you anything. You just need to get up.” Biden then acknowledges the tragedy of Colbert’s own life, as the host’s father and two brothers died in a plane accident when Colbert was a young child, leaving his mother to raise eight children.
The second half of the interview began with the Ed Sullivan Theater crowd emphatically chanting “Joe! Joe! Joe!” as Colbert leaned in to discuss what was rumored to be the reason for Biden’s visit: The announcement of a presidential run. First though, Colbert and Biden talked about the office of the vice president as well as Biden’s admiration of President Barack Obama. “There is one job that [vice president] preps you for … I want to talk about the elephant in the room, which in this case is a donkey,” Colbert said. “Do you have anything you would like to tell us right now about your plans?”
“Yes. I think you should run for president again. And I’ll be your vice president.” Biden joked, referring to the Colbert Report host’s mock presidential run in 2012. However, there was no big announcement to make as Biden admitted to still being too emotionally raw to hit the campaign trail.
“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 to do this.’ 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 and I am optimistic, positive of where we’re going but I find myself…,” Biden said. “Sometimes it overwhelms you.”
After sharing another story about his son Beau and explaining his ambivalence towards a presidential run, Colbert told Biden, “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. So sir, I just want to say, your experience and your example of 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. And if you don’t, your service to the country is something we should all salute.”