Photos (1) View All

    Back in 2007, Vinton was Ground-Zero for the run-up to the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. I don’t know what it was, but back when we were running The Vinton Eagle (that we founded, but never get credit for), it seemed like about all we did was talk to presidential candidates. At one point we were averaging two or three visits a week; I started to feel like I was in the campaigns.

    In November of that year, then-Delaware senator Joe Biden made is his second visit to Vinton. It was meet and greet out at Windsor Manor, with maybe 30 or 40 people there. By this point it was three-horse race between Obama, Clinton and Edwards and the latter horse was fading badly. Senator Biden was getting low numbers but he was still plugging along. After his stump speech he took questions from the crowd and I asked a question about health care, especially in how it pertained to people with chronic, or lifelong, conditions. We were barely a year removed from getting our son Sage’s autism diagnosis and were still learning to navigate those still-tricky waters, so that been my go-to question for all of the candidates. 

    I don’t remember exactly what I asked, and I don’t remember what his answer was, but what struck me above all of it was this genuine look of both understanding and concern. You’d ask questions sometimes and could tell that candidates were only half — or less — listening. But Senator Biden cared as much about my question as his answer. 

    The event wrapped up and I was packing my camera, when I suddenly realized Senator Biden was standing right next to me. 

    “Tell me about your son!” he said.

    And I did. For the next five or 10 minutes we talked like a couple of dads who loved their kids and would do anything for them. That was it…just two guys. About a month later, Senator Biden returned to Vinton for a breakfast event that old Lion & Lamb. I dropped Sage off at pre-school, then headed over for the event. I got there to a packed parlor of media who were there for the breakfast as much as the event. Senator Biden came down the main stairway, glancing around, smiling and greeting people. He looked toward me and made eye-contact then crossed toward me. Sticking out his hand, he asked:

    “How’s Sage; wish I could have met him.”

    Fast forward to Saturday. I realized Thursday that I hadn’t confirmed media access for myself, Valerie and her magic Mevo. I contacted Julia, now-former-Vice-President Biden’s Iowa communications director and while I was making arrangements for our credentials, I mentioned my story to her. She was very interested, even had me send her an email about it. This afternoon, after the vice-president’s speech, Julia made arrangements for me to interview both Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, but Vice-President Biden as well. I was taken back in the hallway by the Tilford art room and two minutes later out he came, a big smile on his face. Now, granted, his staff had briefed him about our story, but it still felt amazing when a man of his stature asked me.

    “Where’s Sage? Do I get to meet him?”

    I nodded and smiled and told him absolutely. Then I asked Mr. Biden a couple of questions and when he finished, he headed down the hall toward where Angie and Sage were.

    “OK,” he said. “Go get them! I want to meet Sage.”

    Angie and Sage were led into the room and the vice-president went straight to Sage. They shook hands, had a hug and Sage exclaimed, “Hi Joe! Where’s Abby?”

    Mr. Biden laughed and said, “We’ll go get her!”

    Then they talked for a few minutes, like Grandpa talking to a grandson. The V-P mentioned that he heard Sage was going to be on the high school speech team this winter and that he had to overcome his stuttering to become a good speaker. 

    “You can do anything you want to,” he told Sage.

    It was all kind of a blur; we were soon joined by Congresswoman Finkenauer and there were lots of pictures and it was over, but it was unforgettable.

    There are all sides when it comes to politics, but anymore seems as if we’d rather just spit bile than actually learn facts; it takes little effort and less mentality. Joe Biden is a politician and he — like a lot of people — wants to be President, and Saturday he was in Vinton as a candidate. But for a little while, he was Dad and a Grandfather who wanted to help our family complete a circle. The former Vice-President was just a kind, decent human being; we want that from everyone we encounter in life, especially in a potential leader.

    Peace, my friends...

See photos here!

Submit a Comment

Please refresh the page to leave Comment.

Still seeing this message? Presh Ctrl + F5 to do a "Hard Refresh".

Comments (3)

Very nice story. I just about teared up reading. Thank you for sharing this.
By: Darrin Lindsey on January 6th 1:14pm
This is a very touching story. Joe Biden isn’t too old, but rather has gained empathy for all Americans.
By: Connie Zenk on January 7th 3:40pm
He is a class act. Wish i could have made it to hear him speak.
By: Rod Moore on January 8th 3:08pm

To receive each day's headlines to your inbox sign up for our email updates.