Joe Biden opens up about faith and the loss of his son Beau with Stephen Colbert

"Sometimes it just overwhelms you," the vice president revealed

Sophia Tesfaye
September 11, 2015 4:08PM (UTC)

During an authentic and heartfelt interview, the two Irish-Catholic men who both had suffered through the death of immediate family members discussed faith, loss, perseverance and 2016 on only the third night of Colbert's takeover of CBS' "The Late Show."

Colbert opened up by exclaiming, "everyone loves Joe," and explained that "when we see you, we think we are seeing the real Joe Biden. You are not a politician who has created some sort of facade to get something out of us," before asking how he was able to maintain his "soul in a city that is so full with people who are trying to lie to us in subtle ways?"


"I commuted everyday for 36 years," Biden replied.

When the crowd broke out into raucous chants of "Joe," Joe," Biden warned back, "be careful what you wish for."

Biden revealed a deep reservation in seeking higher office, telling Colbert that "nobody has a right in my view to seek that [presidency] unless they're willing to give it 110 percent."


"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, number two, they can look at folks out there and say, 'I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion to do this,'" he explained. 

"I'd be lying if I said that I knew I was there."

Biden explained that his hesitation was indeed rooted in the recent loss of his eldest son, Beau, to brain cancer.


"And I am — as I said I'm optimistic, I'm positive about where we're going," Biden continued. "But I find myself — you understand it — sometimes it just overwhelms you."

The vice president went on to recount a recent visit to a military base in Denver where he met a group of military families. "And all of a sudden — it's going great — and a guy in the back yells 'Major Beau Biden, Bronze Star, sir, served with him in Iraq.' And all of a sudden I lost it," Biden said. "How could you … I shouldn't be saying this — you can't do that."


Beau, Biden said, "abhorred people who had a sense of entitlement." Biden recalled a moment before his death when Beau summoned the vice president to his bedside and said, "Dad, I know how much you love me. Promise me you're going to be all right." Colbert, who rarely speaks of his father and three brothers who were killed in an airplane accident, took the opportunity to recount his own loss.

Watch Biden's two-part interview with Colbert, via "The Late Show":


Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Campaign Joe Biden Stephen Colbert The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Video

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