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Vice President's Son, Beau Biden, Dies of Brain Cancer


The oldest son of Vice President Joe Biden has died of brain cancer. Beau Biden was 46 years old. He recently finished two terms as the attorney general of Delaware. NPR White House correspondent Tamera Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Vice President Joe Biden has endured more losses than anyone should have to endure; a wife and daughter and now his son Beau. In 2012, Joe Biden spoke at an event for families of fallen service members and recalled getting the phone call in December 1972. His family had been in a car accident.


VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: My wife was dead, my daughter was dead, and I wasn't sure how my sons were going to make it. They were Christmas shopping, and a tractor-trailer broadsided them.

KEITH: Biden had just been elected to the Senate and wasn't sure he should even take the oath of office. Beau Biden shared his memories of the time in a speech introducing his dad at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.


BEAU BIDEN: My brother Hunter I were seriously injured and hospitalized for weeks. One of my earliest memories was being in that hospital, my dad always at our side.

KEITH: At the time of his convention speech, Beau Biden was the attorney general of Delaware. He was also a major in the Delaware National Guard who went on to serve in Iraq and was awarded a bronze star. Beau Biden was his state's attorney general until earlier this year and was planning to run for Governor. Instead, the brain cancer that he had been treated for in 2013 came roaring back. And again, Joe Biden found himself at his son's bedside. Beau Biden talked about just how dedicated his father had been after the accident in that convention speech.


B. BIDEN: He was sworn in in the hospital at my bedside. As a single parent, he decided to be there, to put us to bed, to be there when we woke up so he traveled to and from Washington four hours a day.

KEITH: Last year, Joe Biden looked back at that decision to take the train home every day at a White House summit on working families.


BIDEN: And when I'd leave for Washington every day, I could almost hear the fear in their voices. Are you going, Daddy? They wanted to know if I was coming back. They wanted to know is everything going to be OK.

KEITH: But Joe Biden said he wasn't making that daily trip for the boys.


BIDEN: It was - I needed to do that. I needed to do that just for me. They helped raise me.

KEITH: A statement from the vice president says Beau Biden, quote, "battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated in everyday life." President Obama said that for all Beau Biden achieved in his life, nothing made him prouder and happier than his family. He leaves behind his wife and two children. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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