POLITICS
11/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Biden Explains Debate Moment Where He Choked Up

Newsweek catches up with Joe Biden and talks to him about the moment during Thursday's debate when he choked up with emotion:

About that catch in his throat: in the moment, he "could picture Beau in the bed" after the 1972 car accident that killed Biden's first wife, Neilia, and their baby girl and critically injured his young sons. Now Beau, the 39-year-old attorney general of Delaware, was off to war, a judge advocate general traveling to obscure regions of Iraq, where the road isn't exactly the safest place to be. The memory of being a single parent mixed with worries about Beau to create "a lot of bundled emotions. It surprised me. I was hoping nobody noticed." Only 70 million or so did.

Here's the video. More from the Newsweek piece below:

Biden, who had stayed neutral in the Democratic primaries after dropping out in January, told Obama that he was "ready to be second fiddle" and sought no specific portfolio--but only if he got a guaranteed hourlong, one-on-one session with the president every week (like Al Gore's lunches with Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush's with Ronald Reagan) and a presence at all important meetings. Obama said yes, that he wanted him for his judgment and for his help in enacting a big legislative agenda. And so the job was defined: "My role will be to say, 'Boss, here's the way I'd go about it'."

Biden says Obama reminds him of Bill Clinton in his "confidence, cognitive ability, judgment" and intellectual security--that he can listen and absorb advice without having to prove he's the smartest person in the room, a critical leadership skill. He says he experienced an "epiphany" during a recent conference call on the bailout bill with Bob Rubin, Paul Volcker, Warren Buffett, Paul O'Neill, Joseph Stiglitz, Larry Summers and Laura Tyson. "He [Obama] comes on the call and says, 'Well, folks, sorry I'm late. I've got four questions.' He was in total frigging command! Here's a 47-year-old guy in one of the most complicated economic dilemmas anyone has had to face since 1929 to '33. And it was like, 'Bang! Bang! Bang!' I called him afterward and said, 'You sold me, sucker!' "