At the DNC, Joe Biden’s story is his family’s story

VIDEO | 02:31
Biden’s granddaughters say they urged him to run for president
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The story of Joe Biden’s political career is inextricable from the story of his family, entwined in his personal biography like a double helix of DNA. It’s a duality that the Democratic Party emphasized at the closing of its national convention on Thursday night, which lionized Biden as a family man seeking to restore American political life to a sense of normalcy.

The deaths of Biden’s first wife, Neilia Hunter Biden, and their infant daughter, Naomi, in an auto crash in 1972 — weeks after Biden won his first race for the U.S. Senate — lent Biden the pathos that would remain with him for the rest of his career as a senator and as Barack Obama’s vice president.

That founding tragedy was bookended by a second one in 2015, when Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer at age 46. Beau Biden’s death reportedly held back Biden in 2016 from pursuing his long-held dream of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, which he’d attempted twice before until finally succeeding this year.


On Thursday night, Biden’s two surviving children, Ashley and Hunter, spoke briefly in praise of their father in pre-recorded remarks. “He’s been a great father,” Hunter Biden said. “And we think he’ll be a great president,” Ashley Biden said.

Hunter Biden’s public appearance was a relatively rare one during his father’s campaign. For much of the Democratic primary contest, President Trump’s allies attacked Biden over Hunter Biden’s lucrative position as a board member for Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company that became enmeshed in controversy. Ukraine’s former top prosecutor later said he saw no evidence of wrongdoing by the younger Biden.

Trump was impeached by the House last year for pressing Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including Joe Biden, and for obstruction of Congress over trying to block House investigators’ access to witnesses and documents. He was acquitted at trial by the Senate.

Ashley Biden is Joe’s daughter with his second wife, Jill Biden. She had accompanied her brother Beau to his chemotherapy sessions before he died.

The Democrats broadcast a montage tribute to Beau Biden, who served as a soldier and was elected as Delaware’s attorney general. The montage closed with an excerpt from Beau’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Committee, in which he exhorted Democrats, “Be there for my dad, like he was for me.”

The convention also featured four Biden granddaughters, who described the nominee as an attentive grandfather who called all the time, and who said they held a family meeting urging him to run for president.