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I have a feeling this is going to be a messy episode, Joe Biden, this is your life, who presented that show again, actually with, you know, the Big Red Book, not the big Red Book.
Yes. Michael Aspell, wasn't it, in recent times. And then, of course, the famous Irish broadcaster, Aymond Andrews.
You know, I love that show. I think was it Daniel O'Donnell? His reaction was my favorite. He genuinely seemed so shocked.
Michael Awaji. Thank you, Bruce. Now, Bruce is in on this one, and he knows that I'm here to do a special version of Danny Boy, because tonight, Daniel Ogami.
It's kind of hard to surprise people like that anymore, I think. And of course, these days wouldn't be a red book, I suppose, but a big red iPod with your Wikipedia page on it, actually. Speaking of which, Turkey folks, I did check up.
If you have a Wikipedia page, you do not you need to get on that, because right now, when you search Jacqui Fox Wikipedia, you get a male English cricketer who was born in 1929 and an American attorney and former musician, political junkie FOX.
Yes, he was a member of The Runaways with Joan Jett.
Yes, she was. Like, attacked all the time on Twitter by her fans, and they think it's they think I'm her and I'm like, I'm so sorry, it's not. She sounds amazing.
Crime solver. Crime solver by day, musician by night. Sounds great. I tell you, it's a great name for a musician and wasted in journalism.
From auto news, this is states of mind.
This American car fired back with rubber bullets, stops right here and stops right now.
I do not believe we're the dark, angry nation that Donald Trump sees in his tweets in the middle of the night, your U.S. Election 2020 podcast with Brian O'Donovan in Washington and Jackie Fox in Dublin today when I was a kid, I talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk like that.
And some of you smile for the call said, my wife is dead. My daughter was dead and wasn't sure how my sons were going to make it.
You know, I can't let it come and go by without quoting an Irish poet to remember they got to vote for their.
People know me, says Joe Biden, but really, do they if he wins the election, he'll be 78 at the time of inauguration. That's a lot of mileage in life. But what do people know about him other than he's old? He was Barack Obama's vice president. He made some blunders here and there. It kind of seems like that's the top layer of Joe Biden, right? Yeah.
It's interesting you say that people don't really know him because actually polling and focus groups have shown that a lot of people feel they don't really know much about him. And I think right now we keep talking about, oh, he's way ahead in the opinion polls. But there's a bit of a problem there. I think he is ahead in the opinion polls a lot of the time because voters really, really, really don't like Donald Trump.
And it's not necessarily that they love Joe Biden. He's just the alternative to Donald Trump. And that's a bit of a problem. You want a bit more enthusiasm behind you. You don't want to be ahead in the polls just because they really dislike the other guy.
My own dealings with Joe Biden, I met him at an Irish embassy event at the end of 2018. It was a couple of months before he announced his candidacy for the Democratic run. I think that night in that embassy for me, sort of encapsulated what many people see Joe Biden and how many people view him. He would not be the best public speaker or the best debater or the best media performer, but he comes across as a very nice guy, very down to earth and very good with people, with a lot of empathy.
And that night at the Irish Embassy, he made this kind of mediocre speech that was a bit rambling. It went a bit off point. It wasn't great. But then he came off the podium and he shook the hands of everybody in that room. Jackie he was the friendliest guy of the night. Everybody was delighted to meet him. He worked the room, as they say, extremely friendly, gave all the journalists a lot of time. We'd been told by his press people in advance that he would not be doing media interviews.
But this was a case of. Right. You couldn't stop him. He spoke to every journalist. I was lucky to get a couple of minutes with him, one on one on camera, much to the annoyance of his press, people who were trying to pull him out of the room. So for me, as I say, that night sort of encapsulated this guy wasn't the best performer on the stage, but was very good down to earth, meeting, greeting, shaking the hands and talking with people.
Let's go back to basics then here and find out who Joe Biden is. Let's give Joe Biden the Mehul Omara herk, the treatment. Who is he? Where did he come from? What did his dad do for a living where his great grannies and granddads. Where do they come from? Don't know if we can tell you what clubs they're affiliated with, but we'll get as close as we can, I think.
Yeah. Joe Biden, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, wasn't a hurling stronghold. It used to be called Democratic terminology, born back in 1942. So he's the eldest of four children. Joseph Senior and Katherine Finnegan were his parents. And Finnegan. Yes, a nod to his Irish heritage there. And we'll come on to that in a little while. And actually, he called his granddaughter Finnegan as a nod to his mother's maiden name. His father struggled to find a steady job after a series of business setbacks.
Yeah, and he always says that he holds both Pennsylvania and Delaware in his heart. As when he was ten, the family moved from Pennsylvania to Delaware, which on a map is between Washington, DC and New York. If you can imagine it.
You know, a couple of folks up here reporting on my coming back home made the point. He said, Joe, you are. So he left here in 1953. You guys moved in like, is this a bit of a hype? I want to tell you all, many of you, Antonians, have had friends you grew up with who left Scranton. Has Scranton ever left the heart of anyone you knew who moved from Scranton? I don't know.
Not a joke.
And things weren't easy for them there, too. His father got a job selling cars, and the Biden boys shared one bedroom with their uncle, Edward Finnegan, whom they affectionately called Booboos a nickname because he had a stutter.
Yeah, and his uncle wasn't the only one to have a stutter as a child. Joe Biden himself also had a very debilitating, serious stutter. And he came up with a lot of strategies and lot of solutions to help himself overcome this. He tried to avoid stuttering by playing out the conversations in advance in his head, practicing, speaking while holding pedals in his mouth.
It's something that he still talks about to this day and the lasting effect it had on him.
STUTTERING And you think about it. Is the only handicap that people still laugh about, that still humiliate people about and then, I mean, do when I was a kid, I talk, talk, talk, talk, talk like that and some of your smile.
If I said to you when I was a kid, I had a cleft palate and people made fun of me right away with arm knowing, smile, no one smile. It's a debilitating situation.
I also think he worked on stuttering by reading Yeats aloud, otherwise not uneventful upbringing. Got a law degree from Syracuse University in the 60s and was drafted for the Vietnam War after finishing law school, but failed the physical because he had asthma.
Yet he went on to become a lawyer and but before that he met his future wife, nearly a hunter, on spring break in the Bahamas during his junior year of college. When he first met her mother, she asked what he wanted to do for a living. And apparently he said that he wanted to be president of the U.S.. Janelia married in 1966, and their son Beau was born in 1969, followed by Hunter, a year and one day later.
It's almost Irish twins. Absolutely.
And then their daughter Naomi was born the following year. And after spending some time as a public defender in Delaware, Joe Biden got his call to office in 1972 and was only 29 years of age. He became the fifth youngest person ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
What amazing news. But as we know now, only to be clouded in real tragedy. Jeb's desperate.
Just a few weeks after Biden had won his Senate seat. Tragedy struck a tractor trailer, struck the family's station wagon. His wife and his three children were driving home from picking up a Christmas tree. His wife, nearly of their 13 month old daughter, Naomi, died in the crash and his sons were hospitalized with serious injuries. But they did go on to survive.
You knew you just felt it in your bones, something that happened. And I knew I don't know how I knew. But the call said, my wife is dead. My daughter is dead. And I wasn't sure how my sons were going to make it. For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide, not because they were deranged, not because they were not because they'd been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they'd never get there again.
I think he was even sworn into the Senate in his son Beau's hospital room. Understandably, the death of his wife and child that would shape his personal and political career for the rest of his life.
Yeah, and after that crash, he stayed in Wilmington, Delaware. He would take the train to and from Washington every day for more than 30 years. And that experience to be something that he could tap into and he would often reference it and people felt he could really empathize with them and speak about tragedy and speak about loss because he had suffered himself so much in his own life.
And, you know, fast forward to 2015. I know we're jumping ahead a bit here, but his son Beau died of brain cancer at just 46 years of age in 2015.
What was that last moment? He looked at me and he said. But I'm not afraid. OK. I always wear this rosary. And he had it on at that time. And it was at the very end and his brother was sitting there, the three of us were holding hands and. You want to reassure us, Joe even described him as Joe 2.0, he was seen as this up and coming person in the Democratic Party being an Iraq war veteran, hugely charismatic, and Delaware attorney general, too.
That's right. And then he went on to remarry in 1977 to Joe Jacobs. They actually went on a blind date arranged by his brother.
And together they have a daughter called Ashley for his political life. If we can go into that. He was a six term senator from Delaware. That's 36 years as a U.S. senator. Since being elected first to office in 1972, he's had his fair share of wins and controversies. He presided over Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation at which Anita Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her. We spoke about that in one of our podcasts.
I think it was the women issue. And he said, Joe Biden, that he regrets how he treated her, among them, how no witnesses were called. Corroborating Hill's testimony in 1994 and act to help protect women from crime was a major part of his career. But his behavior with girls and women has drawn scrutiny over the years, too, for being very hands on with them and also unwelcome, touching something which he has apologized for.
Yeah, a lot of the allegations were, like you say, sort of hugging, becoming too close to people. And then one allegation was much more serious.
And it was made by a woman, by the name of Tara Reid, a former staff assistant in his Senate office, and she actually accused him of sexual assault, something which he has always denied. Race has always been a big focus of Joe Biden's career. In the 1970s, he opposed court ordered school busing as a method of desegregation and public schools. This was something that came up during the Democratic debates. He came under fire from his opponents, Kamala Harris.
In 1984, he blocked the then Alabama U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, from a federal judgeship over racism allegations which he always denied. He wrote the 1994 Crime Act, which hardened federal prison sentences, and it's been criticized for disproportionately targeting black Americans.
He's really been involved in politics for so long when we are jumping from the 70s, the 80s to the modern day.
But all of these things we've been talking about, Brian, even, you know, being the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voting for the Iraq war, Anita Hill being Hanzi with women, these don't seem to be issues that could cause major problems for his campaign. It seems that came from someone much closer to him, his son. Yes, that's right.
His son, Hunter Biden, often a controversial figure. He's been under scrutiny for his business dealings. He has someone who's been described as having a very tumultuous personal life. At one point, an Obama White House aide said that Hunter was on the loose, potentially undermining his father's message.
Yeah, Hunter has struggled for decades with addiction and drug abuse and was discharged from the military after testing positive for cocaine. A bitter divorce with his first wife, Kathleen, was fodder for the gossip pages. And then he had a relationship with his brother's widow, Haley, as well.
Also in his professional life, all eyes were on him due to his position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company which had ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Hunter Biden. For a time, there became the focus of the Trump campaign, claiming that Joe Biden used the office of the vice president to advance and protect his son's interests, almost seeing him as a weak link.
I've done esteemable things and things that are bad in my life that I that I regret in and out of rehab seven or eight times. Say it nicer to me.
He sought treatment for issues like treatment for substance abuse issues. So I'm so sorry.
But I wonder, like, I'm I think this is a human question.
Do you worry? No. But for real. I mean, do you worry that all of this noise, even though it's just noise, I don't know that it could affect your sobriety? Of course.
Look, you don't want to live in the worry of it because then you're feeding the beast. I have no answer other than this. You got to live in the connections that you have to healthy things. And I have so many of them and I got to live there instead of living in fear, like, oh, my God, the stress is going to make me drink or the stress is going to make me use.
Yeah, but the big Biden controversies are actually ones that he's created himself. He can be very gaffe prone. He's put his foot in his mouth on several occasions over the years. He said at one point that he was shot at in Iraq. But he later to clarify that he was near where a shot had landed. He said he'd met survivors of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting while he was vice president. But that shooting happened after he left office.
I watch what happened when the kids from Parkland marched up to and I I met with him and then they went off to up on the hill and I was vice president in one of the hill to go into those neighborhoods. All those congressmen were like, no, I'm not here. I'm. Not here, I don't. Don't tell them I'm around, and in recent weeks, Jacki's also landed himself in hot water. He told an African-American interviewer, You're not black if you vote for Donald Trump.
And just last week, he had to clarify comments he made about a lack of diversity in the African-American community.
Definitely something the campaign seems to be worried about. But we must remember that this isn't Joe Biden's first presidential bid. Oh, no. This is his third run for the White House, not his first rodeo at all.
He also sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 and 2008. And I think this is where we should bring in the guy who helped ruin his first White House run over 30 years ago.
After conceding just last weekend that no one knows me, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware today became the fifth Democrat to declare he's seeking the party's presidential nomination in 1988.
The clarion call for my generation is not. It is our turn, but rather it is our moment of obligation and opportunity.
Bill Schneider, professor at George Mason University, thank you so much for joining us on State of Mind. So, Bill, can you tell us how did you, as you say yourself, inadvertently, help Joe Biden ruin his first White House run? Oh, my goodness.
I was 30 some years years ago in nineteen eighty seven. I had been in Britain covering the nineteen eighty seven British general election where Neil Kinnock was the leader of the Labour Party against Margaret Thatcher, ultimately lost. And there was a party political broadcast in Britain that year. And one of them was made by a famous film director, Hugh Hudson, who made the film Chariots of Fire.
He made a broadcast for the Labor Party, which is a biography of Mr Kinnock. I think that the real privilege of being strong is the power that it gives you to help people who are not strong.
It was a brilliant biography, could only have been made by a professional filmmaker. It affected audiences all over Britain. I saw Tory audiences at the Carlton Club moved to tears as they watched it on television. There's a brilliant documentary about 15 10 minutes long. And it was so good that I brought a copy, I asked a friend of mine at the BBC if I could get a copy of it. He made me a copy. I brought it back to the United States.
I had to have it translated into a compatible format for the United States. I did that at the studio of a friend of mine who a political consultant. He thought it was brilliant. He mentioned it to Joe Biden, who was then running for president for the Democratic nomination. Biden called me to a mutual friend and asked if I had a copy of that broadcast, and I said I did. He said, can we have lunch next week? Can you bring a copy of the broadcast?
Well, the broadcast was a public document just hasn't been shown in the United States, but it had been written up in newspapers and he really wanted to see it. So I brought it with us to lunch. I showed it to him. He, too, like everyone else, thought it was a brilliant piece of work. He asked if he could have the tape to make a copy, and he did. And he gave me the original back.
And that's all I knew until a couple of months later when the whole scandal broke. And at the time, I happened to be at a conference in Europe when my editor called me and said, Did you lend Joe Biden the party political broadcasts? And I said, I did. And she said, well, the New York Times has an article on the front page by Maureen Dowd, then their political correspondent. Now she's a columnist in which she charges that he stole much of a biographical speech from Neil Kinnock and presented Kinnock's life as if it were his own.
And I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university?
Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get the university?
Why is it that my wife is sitting out there in the audience, is the first in her family to ever go to college?
Why is this the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get the university?
The whole plagiarism scandal then broke and went back to the United States. I was on television for several nights and it was it was a very traumatic event because nothing like that had ever happened in a presidential campaign. And he was pressured and did eventually leave the campaign because of the plagiarism charge.
But were you surprised about the outrage about this at the time? Did people really care or was it more of a political thing?
Well, it was a press phenomenon. The press really cares people in the press, academia, and those are the people, writers who are outraged by plagiarism. Ordinary voters aren't sure what the big deal is and they really weren't sure in nineteen eighty seven. But the press really treated it as a very big deal.
Do we ever know who passed on the tape to The New York Times that tipped them off that Joe Biden was plagiarizing?
Well, that's the famous story behind the story, which I was only part of. I also showed the tape to my editor at The Atlantic magazine, which I was writing for at the time. Now I write for The Hill, but they may have to Atlantic. I did not know this. He showed the tape to a good friend, John Sasso, who happened to live in Boston, where the Atlantic is published and who was working for. He was the campaign director for Michael Dukakis, Michael Dukakis, which eventually won the nomination.
Well, what happened was SASO, it turned out at the end was the person who sent the tape a copy of the tape blindly to Maureen Dowd at The New York Times. He sent it to her in a plain brown envelope. There were two videos on the tape, one of Joe Biden signing and without citing the speech, but using chemical words. And right after the actual broadcast of Kinnock's original speech, side by side, there was no return address, no indication of who would take it.
And for months, no one knew where the tape came from. Michael Dukakis, when he found out some months later that the tape was sent by John Sasso, he hired John Sasso and said he didn't want people on his campaign to be participating in what he called dirty tricks. I happened to be speaking to a friend of mine in California who wrote for the San Jose Mercury News. And he said he told me on the telephone that he did not see what John Sasso did.
That was so terrible. He said all he was guilty of was, quote, spreading vicious truths about Joe Biden.
Sometimes it's difficult to remember that Joe Biden was once a. Aged middle of the road, third term senator from Delaware, who was barely known running for president, how was he as a candidate back then in 87? How was he welcomed before he had to throw in the towel before the plagiarism controversy?
He was respected as a senator. Now, this was before the controversy over the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, when there was a lot of criticism of the way he handled Anita Hill's testimony. That was before the 1990s when he voted for several controversial bills like the crime bill sponsored by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton. It wasn't a particularly controversial senator. He was always regarded as a moderate. He was never a candidate of the left wing of the Democratic Party, at least not today.
If they wanted to if they controlled the party, they would have nominated Bernie Sanders, who came in a strong second. Joe Biden is a respected Washington figure. But, you know, this year is a year when given the chaos in the United States, in the world and in Washington, a lot of people want someone who knows the ropes, who has been around, who knows government. Joe Biden was a senator for over 40 years now. He's been around a long time.
So American voters are doing something they rarely do. They're supporting and an insider, not an outsider for president of the United States. That's normally a very vulnerable position to be here. But this year, they want someone they appear to want someone who knows the ropes after Donald Trump.
You could look at this as a gaffe, as a misstep. And many would say that Joe Biden is prone to gaffes just in recent days, here to clarify comments he made about African-American community not being diverse enough. Do you think he's gaffe prone or do you think we could see more of this kind of thing and could scupper his election chances this time around?
Once again, I would say that he has a tendency to make gaffes. He did even 30 some years ago. I'm not sure that the use of the speech was a was a gaffe. He had cited it several times in other speeches, but he had deliberately said, as Neil Kinnock said in his biography, but there were a couple of times when he did not cite it, and that's what created the scandal. He had some record when he was in law school.
He was accused of plagiarizing an essay during his first year and had to repeat, of course, from time to time. He does make gaffes. That's, I think, part of his persona. I don't think it's a moral calamity. I believe and I hope that he has control over that now and makes fewer gaffes than he used to in politics in the United States. Everything you say can be taken as a gaffe, even if it's absolutely correct.
Someone will take it as a gaffe, an embarrassment, and they'll try to make an issue of it. That's part of politics today.
When you look at Joe Biden's position in the opinion polls right now, he is way ahead of Donald Trump. And some people, I would say, may be at their peril of rising Donald Trump of. What's your own assessment of this as a political analyst? Do you think we should we would be in danger of reading too much into this big lead that Joe Biden currently has?
Well, he is ahead, but not much more ahead than Hillary Clinton was at this time in 2016. Things can change. Things can change overnight. Harold Wilson, the prime minister of Britain, once said a week is a long time in politics. A day can be a long time. These things tend to go on and on for a long time. So I. I don't think it's likely to disable his campaign. He's ahead principally for one reason and one reason only Donald Trump.
Trump is an intensely polarizing figure. He has people who adore him. It's virtually a cult. They worship him. They think he ought to be on Mount Rushmore with Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln as one of our great presidents. And we also have a considerable constituency of voters, most of them Democrats, who despise Donald Trump. He embarrasses them. He thinks he's they think he's a shameful president. What they object to is his poor character. They believe he's not a man of good character and sets a poor example as president.
So you have people on both sides. My feeling is Joe Biden wouldn't have to do anything in the rest of the campaign and he still would probably win simply because most of the people who are voting for Biden are people who will never vote for Donald Trump and who are desperate to get rid of Trump. While those presidential runs in 1988 and 2008 didn't exactly work out, he did become Barack Obama's vice president, a strong friendship between them was born with bromance.
And Meems, Barack Obama even awarded Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S., the best vice president America's ever had.
Mr. Joe Biden. As Yates put it, because I had to quote an Irish poet and Seamus Heaney was taken. I think where man's glory begins and ends and say, my glory was I had such friends, you know, I can't let it come and go by without quoting Irish poet.
And Seamus Heaney, whose poem said. When you when you can you can find someone who says it, better use it.
And during Joe Biden's time as vice president, his roots with Ireland grew deeper.
I have been dying to play this for the whole play, trying than remember this one. And we are voting in November other to make a choice for our country. And that's when they got the vote, right?
When you sent me that, I started to listen to it. And I love us. I love us.
You're wondering what on earth is that piece of music? Well, I'll tell you, this was an Irish Americans for Biden virtual rally that was held a few days ago.
So it was this big Zoome webinar type thing involving Irish music, Irish musicians, poetry, as well as Biden endorsements from well-known Irish American politicians like Congressman Brendan Boyle.
We fortunately have many allies on Capitol Hill. One place that has not been an ally has been in the Oval Office. What a refreshing change it will be to have Joe Biden come this January, to have someone who supports the Good Friday Agreement and wants to protect that. Someone here is not mindlessly cheerleading for Brexit, no matter the cost and the world.
Some endorsements from celebrities like Star Wars actor Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.
And of course, they went on to make do with the Star Wars film in Ireland, The Force Awakens in the last July. And Skellig, Michael was the island right off the coast that we we where we filmed it. Like I say, unlike any other place you could believe it was in a galaxy far, far away, because I've never seen such beauty on Earth. We've got to work tirelessly until Joe Biden becomes our next president.
And I think the whole thing was just a chance to drum up support among the Irish American community to get that Irish American vote for Joe Biden. And also a reminder that this is campaigning in a pandemic. It's a virtual rally. As I said, it was this big webinar where over a thousand people dialed in to hear all of these people asking for their votes for Joe Biden.
But this highlights that Joe Biden has a very unique relationship with Ireland. He has visited on many occasions.
It's been a wonderful, wonderful homecoming. And I guess maybe I have to tell you, I was surprised that thousands of people lined the streets.
He is no stranger at all. And he said that being Irish has shaped his entire life.
Yeah, Joe Biden made a very high profile visit to Ireland as U.S. vice president in 2016. And when he was there, he visited parts of Louth Naomi.
These were all the areas that his ancestors had emigrated from. He said once northwest Pennsylvania will be written on my heart, but Ireland will be written on my soul. So the roots are great. Great grandfather was Blewett, Edward Blewett and his wife Mary.
They emigrated from Namor County Mayo 160 years ago. And then on the other side, his mother's maiden name was Finnegan, and her people had emigrated from the Coulee Peninsula in Louth in 1850. The green is definitely in his blood, so.
Time is running out for Joe Biden to convince voters that he should take the Oval Office. What else does he have to do with not much time left. Not much time left, but some big things coming up.
We've got the debates coming up. We're going to get more interviews coming up. And I spoke at the top there about this time that I met him in the Irish embassy where he made this kind of speech from the podium. But then he hit the ground and he shook hands with the entire room. And everybody left that note loving the guy because they'd met him in the shaking his hands. Problem is, Jackie, he cannot work the room anymore. In a pandemic.
He can shake people's hands. He can't get up close and personal, and he can't make that personal connection. Now it's at a remove. Now it's going to rely more on the virtual rally on the Skype interview from the basement or on the debate stage alongside Donald Trump, where areas that he's not as comfortable and that he's not as strong. So it will be interesting to see over the coming weeks and months how he handles that when he's taken out of his comfort zone.
We got a busy time ahead, Brian. A lot more podcast to make between now and November. Absolutely.
Looking forward to it next week, Tatsu.