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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emotional Biden Thanks Delaware Delegates

By John M. Broder

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. wiped away a tear while addressing the Delaware’s delegates. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

DENVER — An emotional and apparently exhausted Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. ventured out early this morning to address the delegates from his home state of Delaware, his first public remarks since arriving in Denver Monday morning.

“I just want you to know that this is a great honor, this is a great honor being nominated vice president of the United States and I’m proud of it,” Mr. Biden told the small breakfast gathering. “But it pales in comparison to the honor I’ve had representing you.”

At this point, the extraordinarily loquacious senator paused, speechless and lost in his thoughts. He wiped away a tear with his handkerchief and went on.

“My private life has been lived in the public arena because you all got me started so young,” he said, alluding to his election to the Senate at age 29 and the death of his wife and daughter in a car accident before he was sworn in.

“I didn’t always comport myself, looking back, the way I would have wanted to when bad things happened to me,” he continued, leaving unsaid the episodes he was referring to. “The press, the national press – I don’t care what they think. I wish we could have done this in private because you know, I don’t know if I would have made it through a lot of tough times in my life without you guys. I mean it sincerely.”

He referred to the people of Delaware as a small family a number of times and told a story about attending church services one Sunday the year he was first elected, 1972. He told the pastor afterwards that everyone had been very nice to him “except for one jerk over there.”

The pastor responded, “The boy may be a jerk but he’s my first cousin.”

Mr. Biden then turned to the election, calling it “the most incredible opportunity any president and vice president will have since Franklin Roosevelt.”

He said that Michelle Obama’s speech to the convention Monday night was the most important moment of the week, more significant that that of her husband, Senator Barack Obama, or Mr. Biden’s or Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s.

“This is an incredible woman, folks,” he said.

He said of Mr. Obama, who will accept his party’s nomination on Thursday night, “This is a guy who has, as my mother would say, a sixth sense. This guy’s got it. This guy’s got it. He’s going to make you proud.”

He called Mr. Obama, the first African-American nominee of a major party, “the first guy who looks at things from a perspective like no one I’ve worked with, and I’ve been around a long time. He’s going to transform America and he’s going to transform the world.”

Saying goodbye to the roughly 30 delegates in the room at a Marriott hotel in suburban Littleton, Colo., Mr. Biden said that the vice president gets “a big house with a big lawn” in Washington and invited them all to celebrate with him there after he wins.

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