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[00:00:01]

From The New York Times, I'm Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily. Tonight, when Joe Biden formally accepts the Democratic Party's nomination for president, it will be the culmination of a 30 year quest and two failed runs for the office. My colleague Matt Flegenheimer on Adelaide Victory. That looks nothing like Biden had planned. It's Thursday, August 20th. America needs someone who can inspire once again, you know, people faith and trust in our government. America needs someone with a heart.

[00:00:56]

Now take us back to when Joe Biden first runs for president. Where does that story start?

[00:01:02]

That story starts at a train station in Wilmington, Delaware, in June of 1987.

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And we thank you, Delaware, for giving us that person. The next president of the United States, Joe Biden.

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He's coming in at the end of the second term for Ronald Reagan. All right, ladies and gentlemen, thank you.

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He is in his 40s.

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And I tell you today that America is a nation at risk. He is kind of the generational change candidate, the clarion call for my generation. Is not it is our turn, but rather it is our moment of obligation and opportunity uses the words my generation quite a bit.

[00:01:44]

This idea that after Reagan, after a lot of stodgy older men, we literally have a chance to shape the future.

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To put our stamp on the faith and character of America, this is not merely history.

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It is our destiny that it was time for a kind of breath of fresh air. And he was somebody who was going to bring that. We need a new kind of presidential leadership, a presidential leadership that's prepared to tell the hard truth and lead this country.

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There's not a signature proposal he's running on. He's really not a 12 point plan kind of candidate. That's like a pretty vague pitch to be making to voters. It is kind of vague. And he really struggled with articulating a rationale beyond wanting to be president.

[00:02:30]

Ladies and gentlemen, there's much more to say, but I don't want to spend my time.

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It was not always clear exactly why he was running.

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Government can do many things, but in the final analysis, government can act more than as a catalyst. We must demand more of ourselves. We're not will suffice short of the wholesale commitment of an entire society. And why do you think he was running?

[00:02:57]

I think he wanted to be president. He is somebody who, by his own account, talked about that in grade school. He somebody who was elected to the Senate at twenty nine, took office shortly thereafter when he turned 30. And this is a dream he had chased in some measure from the moment that he entered public office. At the same time, he also looked around at the fields in 88 and was unimpressed. They were sort of known derisively at the field at that point on the Democratic side, as the Seven Dwarfs was sort of the put down in the press.

[00:03:28]

And he looked at that group and said, why not Joe Biden? And when he enters this race, who is Joe Biden in this moment, what is he actually known for, given his career up to that moment? So despite having been in the Senate at this point for going on three terms, just about, he's really still known nationally for being a kind of tragic figure. He was elected to the Senate in 1972. The following month, his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash.

[00:03:57]

His two sons were injured. And he was immediately sort of identified in the public consciousness as a figure of tremendous sympathy and as someone who had been left to mourn in public by dint of his profession.

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So his early career in Congress is very much defined by this personal tragedy as much as any legislative accomplishment.

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That's certainly true. So how does this campaign in 87, how does it go? It goes fine for a while.

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He is somebody who is doing very well in fundraising. Early on, he was drawing crowds even before he entered the race and some of the early states he was visiting. And I think a lot of figures within the party saw him as very formidable.

[00:04:38]

And then now to the controversy that has suddenly erupted around the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph Biden. He got himself into trouble, the charge that he has plagiarized parts of his speeches on a couple of occasions.

[00:04:50]

He's accused of lifting the words of others.

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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 is it that my wife is sitting out there in the audience, is the first in her family to ever go to college?

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The most memorable is at a debate in Iowa.

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Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I'm the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest at Iowa? He is using the words of Neil Kinnock, who's a British politician.

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Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get the university well established, the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get the university?

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Was it because all our predecessors got thick and passing them off as his own?

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Is it because it didn't work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines in northeast Pennsylvania to come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours. Was it because they were weak, those people who could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football?

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He's quoted Kinnock before on the trail and cited him appropriately. In this instance, he just says the words as if they are extemporaneous. Joe Biden's words does not mention Kinnick. No citation.

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No, it's not because they weren't as smart. It's not because it didn't work as hard. It's because they didn't have a platform upon which to stand.

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It was because there was no platform upon which they would stand. And then it gets picked up in the press, Biden seemed to be claiming Kinnock's vision and white as his own. I should have said, to paraphrase Neil Kinnock, the problem here is that Senator Biden told his audience he'd just been thinking about these things and he failed to give any credit at all to his famous British speechwriter.

[00:06:47]

So this moment begets other moments, unpleasant moments for Joe Biden.

[00:06:52]

CBS News found a tape of a second instance. Biden had appropriated a famous litany from the late Robert Kennedy about what the gross national product cannot measure, cannot measure the health of our children, the health of our children, the quality of our education, the quality of their education, the joy of their play, or the joy of their play. There is a story on his record in law school.

[00:07:16]

Joseph Biden admitted today that he committed plagiarism when he was in law school. He said it was a mistake, but that it was unintentional. He quoted five pages of someone else's work without proper citation, then questioning what my school did.

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You and where did you place in that class a video from the spring circulates of him.

[00:07:35]

And the other question is, could you quickly.

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I think I think I have a much higher IQ than you do.

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I suspect essentially telling a voter in New Hampshire who asked about his academic history, I probably have a much higher IQ than you do.

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I suspect I went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my in my class to have a full academic scholarship.

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And he goes on to exaggerate his record in law school, saying things like, I was the only one in my class to get a full academic scholarship and other things that turned out not to be true. And that combination of both the exaggeration and the sort of belligerence with a member of the electorate did not sit well when that clip began circulating in wider fashion. And this sort of snowballs onto itself.

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If and when I've ever quoted anyone without saying this is their quote, it's either because, in fact, it's been clearly known by everyone what it is or I honestly did not know I was quoting somebody else.

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He has always been dogged by this idea and it's an insecurity. He's talked about a lot himself that he was not necessarily a policy heavyweight or a brilliant thinker. He didn't go to an Ivy League school and do something of a chip on his shoulder as a result of this. And he really thinks he's been disrespected in the national media, not taken seriously enough. There's a cliche on Capitol Hill about workhorses and show horses. And the perception among a lot of people watching him is that he's a show horse.

[00:08:56]

I took the cases out of the law review article and the footnotes out of the law review article. And I thought what I was doing, honestly, was the right way to do it.

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And so he holds a kind of stop the bleeding press conference at the Capitol, trying to essentially reset his campaign and stabilize himself as a candidate. And I footnoted it and it does not go well.

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I was wrong, but I was not benevolent in any way. He comes off defensive, defiant that I did not intentionally move to mislead anybody. I didn't. And you can see him really start to see his initial case, which was so rooted in his own personal integrity, start to fall away. And when that falls away, there's not a whole lot left because there was not a really strong policy undergirding this campaign in the first place by the fall.

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There is another thing happening with great pleasure and deep respect for his extraordinary abilities. I today announced my intention to nominate a United States Court of Appeals Judge Robert Bork.

[00:10:00]

Reagan nominates Robert Bork to the Supreme Court and there is immediately an effort on the Democratic side to figure out how they can best prevent a deeply conservative judge from reaching the court. And Biden, who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, is at the helm of that effort.

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Those in favor of the Bork nomination will vote on those opposed will vote no.

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The clerk will call the roll so his team gets together.

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Mr. Burke, Mr. Metzenbaum and one of his top advisors in the Senate essentially says to him, Mr. DeConcini, if we lose the Bork fight at this point, Mr. Simon, it'll be because of us.

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And if we win, it'll be in spite of us.

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Mr. Thurmond, I. And that really resonates with him. He sees his day job as so essential, not just because he ostensibly cares about the constituency service, but because he has been so ridiculed as a figure of less than considerable substance. A major Supreme Court hearing is quite the forum to push back against that idea.

[00:11:08]

Mr. Hat. All right, Mr. Simpson. So months before anybody even gets a chance to weigh in at the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe Biden is out.

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Mr. Grassley, he makes the decision himself. He's going back to the Senate to finish the book.

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But Mr. Humphrey. Mr. Biden.

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No, and they win. The Robert Bork nomination ended today. The Senate voted by an overwhelming 58 to 42 margin to Bork is not confirmed.

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And Biden has a lot to do with that. It was a major victory for him.

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So in order to protect his Senate career, he feels like he needs to end his bid for president. He feels like he needs to end his bid for president. And at that point, it is not at all clear that his bid for president would have gone particularly well anyway.

[00:11:56]

Mr. President, I'd like to make a few points here, if I may.

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He goes back to the Senate and really resolves to kind of put his head down and and do the work of a senator and aspires to the sort of legacy of some of the lions of the Senate that he has gotten to know fellow Democrats like a Ted Kennedy and also Republicans who had really grown close to over the years.

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So let me tell you, if you're a moral center is oil, if I understand you, if you're moral center is humanity. There is no comparing the restoration of Kuwait with the ending of genocide in Bosnia.

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He is really pushing this kind of muscular foreign policy idea that America should be a force for good in the world.

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And what is the message we send to the world if we stand by and we say we'll let it continue to happen here in this place, but it has not in our interests.

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He is pushing legislation around violence against women pushing the crime bill in the mid 90s under President Clinton.

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One of the things I want to do in addition to end crime is end the political carnage that goes on when we talk about crime.

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He is seen as a particularly capable bipartisan figure.

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Crime is not Democrat or Republican. He talks about never questioning anybody's motive, maybe their politics and their motive. And he is seen as kind of an honest broker among Republicans, certainly in this period.

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And I think there's a consensus among Republicans in that all barbed wire, Republican conservatives just want to hang them high.

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Even those folks are saying, hey, we got to deal with the root cause of this, even if it turns into disdain.

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Sometimes some of the more liberal groups and liberal Democrats who used to say, let's look at the sociological underpinnings of why this occurred and we have to they're now saying, hey, look, we've got to take back the streets. We'll make that fight later.

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But he really makes a particularly concerted effort in these years when he is not running for president to bring the kind of heft to the day job that voters didn't necessarily see in nineteen eighty eight.

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So when does Biden decide in the midst of this pretty successful engagement in the Senate that he's going to try to seek the presidency again? It's something he never lets go of fully. So he thinks about it in 2004, as George W. Bush is seeking reelection, decides against it in the end. But 08 is the time when he decides friends.

[00:14:24]

Today, I filed the necessary papers to become candidate for president of the United States. He's ready for the second time, along with my wife, Jill, and my my my children, Beau Hunter and Ashley. We really look forward to being out there on the campaign trail with you and getting a chance to meet you.

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And he's running is a very different candidate. Obviously, he's been in the Senate for more than 30 years. It's his sixth term. And he brings with that a set of experiences he didn't have in nineteen eighty eight.

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I've spent the last four years traveling back and forth to Iraq, meeting with our soldiers, our generals and our diplomats and trying my level best to convince the president to change course.

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This is a moment of unpopular wars going on in the country.

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And he's somebody, according to his fits, who really understands those challenges because of the work that he's done in the Senate since his last campaign for the next president of the United States is going to have to be prepared to immediately step in and act without hesitation to end our involvement in Iraq without further destabilizing the Middle East and the rest of the world.

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But as it turns out, that kind of experience did not necessarily resonate widely with voters for a whole host of reasons for one. He is a figure who is running up against a historic moment in this Democratic primary.

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Generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed. Barack Obama is running. That sums up the spirit of a people. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

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Hillary Clinton is running the question isn't whether we can keep America's promise, it's whether we will keep America. And despite the relative inexperience in the Senate as his colleagues, the non historic nature of the Biden campaign as a white man in his 60s really feels out of step with the times when set against these dynamic and compelling and particularly history making candidates against him. At the same time, we see flashes of the campaign. Biden come to the fore very early in this race.

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You got the first sort of mainstream American who is articulate and bright and clean, nice looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.

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He also just had a lot of these moments I spent last summer going through the black sections of my town, holding rallies in parks, trying to get black men to understand it's not unmanly to wear a condom, getting women to understand they can say no, getting people in the position where testing matters, these moments of sounding out of touch in kind of a cringe worthy way, sort of an uncle at a family gathering saying something that he probably shouldn't.

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I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for aid. There's no shame in being tested for AIDS. It's an important thing because the fact of the matter is in the community and the community is engaged in denial.

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And on the policy side, quite frankly, on the most important foreign policy issue of the day, despite his experience in the Senate that he touted, he's on the opposite side of Barack Obama. He voted for the Iraq war. Obama did not. On the point that Barack Obama made throughout is I may not have the experience on paper, but I do have the wisdom to avoid a blunder such as that.

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Hmm. So it just the moment when Biden thought that he had proven he was the workhorse and the steady hand and the experienced kind of graybeard of the Senate that turned out to be the wrong kind of set of experiences for the Democratic electorate. It just did not fit the moment. And there was really never a moment in that campaign when he felt like a particularly serious threat to take the nomination. The voters of Iowa render their verdict and he drops out almost immediately thereafter.

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But unlike 88, he really doesn't embarrass himself either. In the end, he is seen as a sort of affable, knowledgeable peer among his rivals, but he does have to leave the race. So here we have another failed presidential bid. And for the second time, Biden doesn't really get all that far in these Democratic primaries.

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No. Two campaigns, zero states, one vote. He does get out of this race is for months.

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I've searched for a leader to finish this journey alongside really earning the respect of the eventual nominee, Barack Obama.

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Today, I've come back to Springfield to tell you that I found that leader.

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So when the time comes to pick a running mate, a man with a distinguished record, a man with fundamental decency, and that man is Joe Biden.

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Barack Obama chooses Joe Biden. But at this point is not seen as particularly likely to seek the presidency again. He's obviously in his 60s, he's run twice and failed.

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But we now know there's a conversation that the two of them have as he's offering Biden the running mate slot. And Obama says to him, this is in Biden's telling. I hope you see this as the capstone to your career. Biden says back to him, not the tombstone. Hmm. But that is set aside for the moment. He goes off into the Obama campaign and of course, Obama and Biden win that election.

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I want to thank my partner on this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton, the vice president elect of the United States, Joe Biden. We'll be right back with. You want a diverse portfolio, so you'll have to do a lot of legwork, right? Well, not really. See, with iShares core ETFs, you don't have to research individual stocks and bonds.

[00:20:31]

That's because iShares core ETFs are designed to give you broad and balanced building blocks across a range of major asset classes, making diversification easy peasy. Take a closer look at iShares ETFs and get a new perspective on your portfolio. Learn more at iShares Dotcom iShares. Invest in something bigger. So just as after nineteen eighty eight, when Biden kind of threw himself into the role of being a senator after he loses that 08 race, he really pours himself into the vice presidency in this case.

[00:21:04]

Absolutely. He sees himself as the sort of ultimate lieutenant for the first black president and takes very seriously the idea that they are full partners. He wants to be the last person who Obama talks to before making a major decision. He wants to be in the room where those tough calls are happening. And I do think there is a parallel to that period in his Senate life between his presidential runs. He definitely. Both absorbs this idea that he should be doing the job he has and not the job that he might aspire to and seems to believe it.

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And there is certainly a belief among those in the Obama White House that he is not necessarily giving up on those ambitions down the line, but he is not seen as somebody positioning himself for Iran either.

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And it's not really the case, because my sense is that by the time Obama is ready to leave office, that no, that is Joe Biden's perpetual desire to seek the presidency is glowing pretty brightly. It is. And it probably never went out. You don't think about such things in grade school and relinquish them in your 70s. But a couple of things happen late in Obama's second term. One of them is political. Hillary Clinton's running for president again.

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She is effectively clearing the field. It seems a lot of the Obama operation is already lining up behind her. Barack Obama makes clear that he sees her as a pretty suitable heir, potentially. And then tragically, there is the death of Beau Biden, Joe's eldest son, his political heir to the would be Biden dynasty in Delaware. He was the state attorney general and it was wrenching.

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This was someone who had already been left to grieve so publicly with such raw emotion early in his Senate life and for the second time, he is burying a child. Mm hmm. So this was just a particularly searing moment for all those who who know and love Joe Biden. And through some combination of the rawness of that mourning and how far down the road the Clinton campaign had already gotten, he opted not to run.

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Good morning, folks. Please, please sit down. He stands in the Rose Garden beside President Obama.

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And there's a moment at the beginning of that press conference and he says, Mr. President, thank you for letting me the Rose Garden for a minute. It's pretty nice place.

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And there is this sense watching that, that it was not a place that Joe Biden would have to himself down the line, that this was probably his last window to run.

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As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I've said all along what I've said time and again to others, that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president that it might close. I've concluded it has closed.

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It was a poignant reminder of all that he had been through prior and how he had come to be seen as this kind of avatar of trauma and resilience and how central that was to his public arc throughout his career. And to have this book and his time as vice president was something that to Democrats and Republicans just felt unfair. And I remember Matt thinking after watching that news conference that this was his last chance to run for president. I think a lot of people thought that, but it turned out that.

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His presidential aspirations did not end in the Rose Garden that day, he ran again in twenty twenty. And after a roller coaster campaign in which he was up and he was down, and for a moment it looked like he was almost written off. He prevails. And just a couple of nights ago, he is formally designated the Democratic Party's nominee for president. And so I'm curious in your mind what he had going for him in twenty twenty that he didn't have in those previous two runs?

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Well, in some ways, it's a culmination of those runs and all that he had experienced in the time since. He is fusing the kind of personal integrity argument from his 88 campaign, his own character, his own decency and the experience that he's making in 08, that he is somebody who has been there, has seen it and knows what to do. Mm hmm. And it turns out that that combination becomes pretty compelling in twenty twenty. He is somebody who, through the context of this moment, found a rationale.

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His advisers would say he met the moment. In some ways, the moment dictated it. He ran a campaign in the primary premised not particularly on policy or ideology, but on the idea that the country is better than this and that this president has to be defeated by fellow Americans.

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There are moments in our history so grim, so heartrending for each of our hearts. Shared grief and his campaign argument in some ways hinges almost exclusively on this idea that he is a figure of unique perspective.

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Today is one of those moments. One hundred thousand lives have now been lost.

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This virus in this moment of a pandemic, of a reckoning over racial justice, sort of overlapping crises and traumas.

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I think I know what you feel. If you feel like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest, it's suffocating.

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He is holding himself out as somebody who knows how to overcome such things because he has this nation grieves with you.

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Take some solace in the fact. We all agree with you. It's not as if his biography wasn't compelling in past races, but it's so much more resonant in a moment of collective grief in the country and of such tremendous trauma and upheaval in people's daily lives. And at the same time, you have a problem figuring out whether you're for Mayor Trump and you a black, he is still the Joe Biden that audiences have seen and occasionally chafed at seeing over the years.

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He is prone to gaffes. He had a handful of interactions with voters on the trail during the primary.

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And. That's not true.

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And no one has ever said that to him, that I think his campaign instantly regretted sort of confrontational, evocative of that. I have a higher IQ than you do. Moment from 88.

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You said I sent my son to work in an oil company.

[00:27:58]

When you said that you were strategic, he's liable to get carried away in front of a crowd to exaggerate, to misstate something on the debate stage. There's no question that those weaknesses persist.

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And I can get things done. And that's why I'm running. And you want to check my Shavon. Let's do push ups together with prime minister, whatever you want to do.

[00:28:19]

So in his first run in eighty eight, he talked about how he saw presidential history in cycles. You had these kind of bursts of progress and upheaval followed by these moments of correction where voters wanted to choose a candidate who could let the country catch its breath. And the implication then was that he was that candidate, that he was the generational change, the burst of progress. And the implication now is that he is the figure who can let America catch its breath.

[00:28:43]

And there is such a conspicuous passage of time and that he is not running on generational change as a seventy seven year old man right in the way that he was thirty two years ago. And that passage of time is evident. You can hear it in his speeches. You can see it in his public appearances. He has been through a lot. He has done a lot. He has earned that edness at this stage of his career.

[00:29:09]

I wonder how it will feel for Joe Biden tonight after all these failed attempts, after all of his personal tragedy, to finally have this moment arrive some 30 years after he first tries for it. And I'm sure 30 years of thinking about trying for it again, he will walk out, I guess, to a podium. This is virtual. It will be weird. And he will accept it last, the Democratic Party's nomination for president. How is that going to feel for him?

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I think like so much in his political career, it'll be bittersweet. I mean, think about the scene, he will not be in an arena in Milwaukee, he will be at a remote location in Wilmington, will not have a crowd of people chanting his name, no balloons. No, we love Joe. And I think that reflects the moment, but is also such a spectacular comedown from the vision of this that he might have had. He's been thinking about the presidency for decade after decade.

[00:30:13]

Today, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America, and so much of it won't look like he expected it to.

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And this moment of triumph.

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God bless you and thank you. Both superficially because of the convention setup and substantially, most powerfully for him, because Beau Biden won't be there in every version of this speech that he's imagined in his life up until Beau's death, I'm sure Beau Biden in the wings of the arena and helping him prepare the speech is is what he had in mind. And if there's any through line to his public life, it's this commingling of tragedy and triumph. And in some ways, it's a fitting coda to have him accepting the nomination in a way so radically different from what he had hoped and so colored by the national grief and gloom that this moment ends of the country that he hopes to lead.

[00:31:23]

Mayor, thank you very much, we appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me. As listeners of this podcast, you know, the inside of everything, but do you know enough about you? Woop is the 24/7 health and fitness tracker, which changes that by monitoring critical daily metrics like sleep recovery, respiratory rate and strain. It gives personalized feedback on your performance so you can reduce risk of burnout and illness. Today, WOOP is helping workers, universities and pro athletes stay healthy while returning to work in sports.

[00:31:58]

Get 15 percent off a membership today when you visit joined Dotcom and use Kodaly at checkout. Here's what else you need to know today. The morning after the last election, I said we owe Donald Trump an open mind and the chance to lead. I meant it. Every president deserves that.

[00:32:19]

And on the third night of the Democratic National Convention, the last Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, implored Americans to replace the man who defeated her in 2016 by electing Joe Biden. I wish Donald Trump knew how to be a president because America needs a president right now.

[00:32:43]

Later in the night, the President Obama standing before an image of the United States Constitution offered himself as a character witness for his former vice president 12 years ago.

[00:32:55]

When I began my search for a vice president. I didn't know I'd end up finding a brother. Joe and I come from different places, different generations, but what I quickly came to admire about Joe Biden is his resilience, born of too much struggle, his empathy born with too much grief.

[00:33:20]

And in the night's keynote speech, Senator Kamala Harris accepted the party's nomination for vice president, calling on the country to confront structural racism and acknowledging that the challenges facing her and Biton are enormous.

[00:33:39]

So make no mistake, the road ahead is not easy. We may stumble, we may fall short.

[00:33:48]

But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly.

[00:33:56]

We will speak truths and we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.

[00:34:07]

Biden is scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech later tonight. That's it for the daily unlikeable Borro. See you tomorrow. Would you pay 100 dollars for a six pack of beer, could you, as climate change disrupts global agriculture? We're approaching a future where everyday items, including beer, will be far more expensive. Of course, beer will be the least of our problems. The economic consequences of climate change will make 2020 look small in comparison. That's why fat tire amber ale is now America's first national carbon neutral certified beer.

[00:34:51]

It's a good start, but it's not enough. Learn more and take action to solve climate change at drink sustainably. Dotcom.