In his “60 Minutes” interview Biden showed the fullness of his heart, his great love and regard for his family and how his little granddaughter finally helped him make up his mind.
It is a poignant interview, part of the transcript is reproduced here, but it shows a decent and honorable man facing the adverse tides of fortune with fortitude, love and faith.
America will be a lot worse without Joe Biden. Typically, his last 15 months will be dedicated to galvanize an effort to beat cancer, which took his beloved son Beau. Biden will go down as the last of a generation of gentlemen in politics, an old school guy who cared as much about the little guys and gals as the rich and powerful.
The portion of the transcript begins with Biden explaining why he choose not to run.
BIDEN: What I struggled with was whether or not- we could emotionally- I could, I speak for me, I could emotionally- handle this in a way that when I thought of Beau- I didn't- it wasn't a problem. For example, I- at one point- late summer, I thought, "Well, you know, I think we can do this." And I'll never forget my little granddaughter we’re down by the swimming pool, Mom says, "Time for dinner everybody." And everybody goes up, and she's lying between my legs with her head on my shou- my chest and turns around and puts her arms around me and starts sobbing and says, "Pop, I see Daddy all the time. I see Daddy all the time.
Pop, you smell like Daddy. You're not going to leave me, are you Pop?"
Well, when that happens, you go, "I don't know, man, how- you know, how could-" and so there are those kinds of ups and downs. But by the time, now, you know, we go to- we were home last weekend and we there every weekend we can get—and we went to her- she has a great little cross country, she's only eleven years old.
DR. JILL BIDEN: –to her track meet.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Track meet. And she runs and she finishes and I give her a big hug, she said, "Daddy would be happy, wouldn't he? Wouldn't he?" So it's a total- you know, it just- it just takes time. And until you get there, you know, it's not- not an appropriate thing to throw your- and by the way, you can't run for president unless you throw your entire being into it.
NORAH O'DONNELL: How often did the two of you talk about this decision? Every night?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, we just looked at each other half the time.
DR. JILL BIDEN: Yeah.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Like I- I- I'd get up in the morning some mornings and I'd say, "You know, Jill, I think I-” Because I have to admit to you, it was driving us crazy is you guys. We love you. But, you know, serious press people would say, "Well, we have on good authority from a very close friend of Joe Biden's that he's going to announce tomorrow." Or, "We have on good authority that he's not going to run," or, "Good- " And- that used to drive me crazy. And so part of it was I- I'd get up some mornings and say, "Let's just end this thing, man. We don't have time to- I don't want to go- keep getting buffeted like this."
And- and so some mornings—we’d say, like I remember about a month ago we were on the porch at home and I said, "You know, when- maybe we should just- I don't know if we're going to get there in time. Maybe we should just say we're not going." And Jill said, "But, What about the Supreme Court?"
DR. JILL BIDEN: What about education? What about community colleges? I felt like we were- everything we has worked so hard for in this administration, you know, could all- could just all change.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, that's because she's prejudiced. She thinks that I have the best chance of winning the general election. So that’s - (LAUGHTER)
NORAH O'DONNELL: But that's really interesting to hear that. That you were really pushing him to go forward.
DR. JILL BIDEN: Oh yeah. Sure.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Will you ever run for political office again?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: No. No.
I can do so much more, I believe. I hope I leave office in- as a respected figure who can—convene people and- bring people together. And I just think the president and I talked about what we do together. What we each want to do out of office-
NORAH O'DONNELL: You- said something in the Rose Garden. You said, "If I could be anything I would want to be the president that ended cancer."
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's true. It's personal, I acknowledge. But you know, cancer affects every single family. And, you know, one of the great advantages and an advantage I had it's- of being Vice President, I had access to the finest people in the world. And I am confident if we make the decision John Kennedy made of going to the Moon, and we said, "We are going to cure cancer,” within the next several years we can do that. That's how close it is.
NORAH O'DONNELL: There was a lot you had to weigh in this run for president. I know you talked to your son, Beau, about running for president. What did he want you to do?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, first thing I'd like to do, and you’re being very polite the way you’re asking me the question because some people have written that, you know, Beau on his death bed said, "Dad, you've got to run," or, there was this sort of Hollywood moment that, you know, nothing like that ever, ever happened. Beau from the time he was in his 30s- or actually his late 20s- was my—he and Hunter were one of my two most reliable advisors. and- Beau all along thought that- I should run and I could win. But there was not what was sort of made out as kind of this Hollywood-esque thing that at the last minute Beau grabbed my hand and said, "Dad, you’ve got to run, like, win one for the Gipper." It wasn't anything like that.
NORAH O'DONNELL: I want to show you a photo of President Obama and you.
This is in the- the Oval Office. This is right before you went out into the- to the Rose Garden and told everybody that you weren't running for President. What advice did the President give you?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well I called the president early in the morning and he was in the gym working out. And he took my call and I said- "Mr. President," I said, "We decided. I- I'm not going to run." And he knew how close it was, what was going on. And- I said, "I'm going to go out and announce it- this morning or- or early afternoon." He said, "Joe, I'll be proud to stand with you.
NORAH O'DONNELL: But did the president want you to run?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The President- wanted me to do what I thought was best.
NORAH O'DONNELL: But that speech in the Rose Garden sounded a little bit like a campaign platform. Did you have this- a speech written for whether you were going to run or whether you weren't going to run? Because part of the speech sounded like, "I'll be ready. I've got a plan if you need me at some point."
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well- the truth is- there's some truth to that because- what- I wanted to make clear-
NORAH O'DONNELL: But are you leaving the door open if something happens
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: No, no, no. I was making a case that I do want to influence the Democratic party. I want to make no bones about that. I don't want the party walking away from what Barack and I did.
NORAH O'DONNELL: You said I will not be silent.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:I will not be silent. And I went on and in fact said, and I want to the extent I can -influence the direction of the Democratic Party and the country.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, let me ask you about that because you didn't mention Hillary Clinton at all during the speech. But you sure did seem to be referring to her. You said, "I don't think we should look at Republicans as our enemies." Was that a reference to the comment she made -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: That wasn't directed at Hillary. That- that- that was a reference to Washington. All of Washington.
NORAH O'DONNELL: But she called Republicans enemies in the debate.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, I- I think- I think she- she was being more humorous than she was direct about that.
NORAH O'DONNELL: But she said that in the debate. She was asked-
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: -well.
NORAH O'DONNELL: -which enemy are you more proud of. And she said the Iranians and then she also mentioned the Republicans Well, she was smiling when she said the Republicans.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: And I- don't take it as- that's her view. But I do know it's the view of many people, like, for example, and I know this statement there were two big articles ready to say, “Why is Biden so naïve?” These people are our enemy. Serious people. They're not my enemy.
I- how in God’s name can we govern this country- if we view the opposition as an enemy.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Did you watch the Democratic debate? Did you watch Hillary Clinton? Did you think she's unbeatable?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: No. I- I- I didn't think that. What I thought was she did a great job. I thought Bernie did a great job. Look, I've debated Hillary thirteen times in national presidential debates. I know Hillary. I know her debating skills. I know mine. I have never had any doubt about her intellect or her capacity to debate. And I thought she gave- she comported herself really well.
NORAH O'DONNELL: But you wouldn't have considered running for president unless you thought or had some doubts about Hillary Clinton.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Not at all. That has nothing to do with it. I've said from the beginning, look, I like Hillary. Hillary and I get along together. The only reason to run is because I- I still think I could do a better job than anybody else could do. That's the reason to run. I wouldn’t run against Hillary.
NORAH O'DONNELL: But you also said in the Rose Garden that Democrats should run on the record.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: That's right.
NORAH O'DONNELL: The President's record.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I believe that.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Do you think Hillary's running on that or something else?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, she'll run on part of it. If not, she's already made a decision on two important things. It doesn't mean she won't be a great president.
NORAH O'DONNELL: So when *The New York Times *reported this past week that there's real tension between you and Hillary Clinton, that the mere mention of her name makes you fume according (LAUGHTER) to some advisors.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, let me tell you something, this- must be the same guys who knew I was going to run- because that's never been the case. Go back and find anybody who says for the four years we worked together Hillary and I weren't friends.
NORAH O'DONNELL: What do you think of Donald Trump?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The one thing I do- I'm disappointed in Donald Trump.
I know what a showman and all that he is. But I really- I really don't think it's healthy and I hope he reconsiders this sort of attack on all immigrants. I think that is- I think that is beneath the country. I don't think it's where the American people are. And I hope he really doesn't believe it.
NORAH O'DONNELL: You have fifteen months left in office.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:I do.
NORAH O'DONNELL: What one or two things do you think you can get done?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, I think we can get a number of things
done. One, I think we can really begin to nail down this commitment to work on cancer and head toward a moonshot. The President and I have already talked about that. Number two, I think we can make some real progress, particularly with Paul Ryan, who is a good guy, on working toward an accommodation on the budget and on keeping the government open.
NORAH O'DONNELL: This White House has not been able to get much done with this Congress. Do you think-
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: That's true.
NORAH O'DONNELL: -that Speaker Ryan will change things? VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yes This is a decent guy. And he knows you cannot function-this government can’t function without reaching some consensus and he wants to do that.
NORAH O'DONNELL: I know you often give advice to people. And one of the things you say is you're either on your way up or you're on your way down. Which one are you?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I think I'm still moving up. I think we got a lot to do.