Joe Biden praised his memory again during the first presidential debate: his son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015, occupies an extraordinary place in the campaign of the Democratic candidate for the White House.
“Even if he is no longer with us, he still inspires the future president of the United States every day”: in the speeches and even a dedicated video of more than two minutes, it is during the Democratic convention in August that the influence of this charismatic man had been most striking.
Since Beau Biden died at the age of 46 by brain cancer, the septuagenarian evokes him, moved, on almost every occasion. And his tributes have recently found a new lease of life, with an article accusing Donald Trump of calling dead American soldiers “losers”.
Delaware attorney general (2007 to 2015), army reservist sent to Iraq, Beau Biden had for a time flirted with the idea of taking over from his father in the Senate, and seemed destined for a national destiny.
“My son (…) was not a loser,” said Joe Biden, raising his voice, on the debate set on Tuesday.
But at the mention of this missing son with the idealized image, the Republican president immediately opposed that, more troubled, of his brother: “You mean Hunter? “
At 50, this lawyer and adviser is at the heart of the Ukrainian case which had won Donald Trump a historic impeachment procedure.
Democrats accused the US president of abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s business affairs.
“Where’s Hunter?” ”
Since his acquittal, Donald Trump has not budged: Joe and his son are “corrupt” for letting the latter play his name in order to obtain lucrative contracts. And on Tuesday night he brandished the drug addiction that Hunter himself admitted.
Indignant, the Democratic candidate returned the billionaire to the millions of Americans who suffer, in their families, from a problem of addiction. “He overcame it,” he said. “And I’m proud of him”.
But as if to continue his interrupted tribute, it was with a cap in the name of the Beau Biden foundation, fighting against child abuse, that he appeared Wednesday morning in front of journalists.
” Proud of me? “
He makes no secret of it: Beau Biden’s influence on the Democrat remains immense.
His disappearance, at 46, had made Joe Biden hesitate for a long time, under the weight of mourning, to run for the Democratic primary in 2015/2016. He had finally given up.
Candidate this time, the ex-right arm of Barack Obama had let go in January, holding back his tears: “Beau should be the one running for president, not me. Every morning I get up and (…) ask myself: “Is he proud of me?” “.
His memory could even have played a role in the choice of his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. Beau Biden “had immense respect for her and her work,” he confided shortly after naming her.
Both were attorneys general during the great financial crisis of 2007-2009.
“Beautiful, your turn to play”
His passing was not Joe Biden’s first family tragedy.
In 1972, when he had just been elected senator, his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. His two sons had been injured and it was at their hospital bedside that the Democrat had decided to take office in Congress.
Then he had made the regular round trips by train between Washington and his stronghold of Wilmington, Delaware, four hours each time, to raise them.
These years have united the family deeply.
“One of my first memories is to be in the hospital, dad always by our side,” Beau confided at the 2008 Democratic convention, making Joe and his wife Jill Biden cry. “Five years later, we (my brother, dad and I) got married to my mom, Jill”.
It was again he who, in 2012, presented Barack Obama’s vice-president on the stage of the Democratic convention. With these words: “My father, my hero: Joe Biden”.
Last August, despite his death, he again took pride of place at the convention, this time to mark his father’s candidacy for the White House.
“We wanted to give Beau the last word,” his brother Hunter said. And their half-sister Ashley to launch, before an excerpt from her speech in 2012: “Beautiful, your turn.”