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Stephen Colbert's Interview With VP Joe Biden Quickly Takes an Emotional Tone: 'You've Just Got to Get Up


"Nobody has a right … to seek that office unless they're willing to give it 110 percent."

There were a few laughs shared between Vice President Joe Biden and Stephen Colbert, but much of the interview struck an emotional tone. (Image source: YouTube)

NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) -- Vice President Joe Biden said he is overwhelmed at times by his son's death and unconvinced he could commit fully to being president, in an emotional interview that cast a deep pall over his deliberations about the 2016 presidential race.

Within the first three minutes of the interview Thursday, CBS' "The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert offered his condolences to the vice president for his son, Beau Biden, who died in May after a battle with brain cancer.

Eyes downcast, Biden responded with a quiet "thank you" and went on to talk about the pride he has for his son, a man who he said turned out better than him.

There were a few laughs shared between Vice President Joe Biden and CBS' "The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert, but much of the interview struck an emotional tone. (Image source: YouTube)

Asked about his 2016 decision, Biden said he'd be lying if he said he knew he was prepared to run.

"I don't think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and two, they can look at folks out there and say, 'I promise you you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy and my passion to do this.' And I'd be lying if I said that I knew I was there," Biden said. "I'm being completely honest."

"Nobody has a right, in my view, to seek that office unless they're willing to give it 110 percent of who they are," Biden continued, adding that he finds himself overwhelmed at times.

With a level of candor seen rarely in politics, he recalled a breakdown of his emotions during a recent visit to a Colorado military base when a well-wisher yelled out the name of his son and referenced his decorated military service in Iraq.

"All of a sudden, I lost it," Biden said. "How could you — that's not — I shouldn't be saying this, but ... You can't do that."

Here's the first 10 minutes of the interview:

Biden's much-anticipated appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" was expected to take on a light and comedic tone, but instead veered almost immediately into raw and personal territory.

Biden has previously expressed doubts about whether he and his family have the emotional energy to run. Still, his blunt description of his own emotional frailty on Thursday marked the strongest indication yet that he may be leaning against running for the Democratic nomination.

Since his son's death, Biden has frequently peppered his speeches with references to Beau and the impressive resume he developed in his 46 years. Yet Biden went further in the interview, describing in detail conversations he had with Beau in the months before his death at a military hospital.

"He said, `Dad, sit down, I want to talk to you.' He said, `Dad, I know how much you love me,'" Biden recalled. "Promise me you'll be all right, because no matter what happens, I'm going to be all right."

If Biden seemed unusually willing to bare his soul, it may have been due to his host. Colbert, the longtime Comedy Central star who this week took over David Letterman's former role, lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash as a child. Biden invoked Colbert's losses to make a point about how "there are so many other people going through this."

"I feel self-conscious talking about it," Biden said, looking down solemnly and occasionally wringing his hands.

Decades ago, at the start of his political career, Biden lost his wife and infant daughter in a car crash that also injured Beau and his other son, Hunter. Asked by Colbert how he perseveres, Biden cited his Catholic faith — revealing how he relies on going to mass and saying the rosary for perspective and comfort — and his determination to simply keep moving.

"What my faith has done, it sort of takes everything about my life ... all the good things that have happened have happened around the culture of my religion and the theology of my religion and I don't know how to explain it more than that. It's just a place you can go," he said.

Biden went on to say that "if I didn't just get up," he'd feel like he was letting down his son, his parents and his family.

"You've just got to get up," he said.

Watch the second part of the interview, which starts with the audience chanting "Joe! Joe! Joe!":

For his part, Colbert was unabashed in his support for a Biden campaign, praising him effusively for showing Americans "the real Joe Biden" and adding, "I think we'd all be very happy if you did run." Biden attributed his current star status in the Democratic Party to the fact that he never felt compelled to modulate what he says.

"If you can't state why you want the job, then there's a lot more lucrative opportunities other places," he said.

Biden's public meditation on the 2016 race capped a hectic day of speeches and events in New York, where he focused on two issues that have been central to his political career for decades: workers' rights and violence against women. He spent part of the day at a fundraiser for Senate Democrats.

The vice president once set an end-of-summer deadline to decide whether to run, but that outlook was reshuffled after his son, the former Delaware attorney general, died. In early August, Biden let it be known that he was actively considering a run. More recently, Biden's aides have said any announcement would likely slip into late September or early October, or possibly even later.

The intense interest stirred up by the prospect of Biden running campaign has essentially frozen the Democratic primary campaign, as Hillary Rodham Clinton and the other candidates wait to see whether they'll face another formidable contender. Recent national polls have suggested Biden could be competitive against the Republican candidates, and that he's more popular within his own party than Clinton in key primary states.

Funny or not, the late-night appearance put Biden on the same stage to which 2016 presidential candidates have been flocking. Since Colbert's debut this week, he's already snagged an interview with GOP contender Jeb Bush and booked future appearances with candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Clinton will try out her comedy chops next week on NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

This story has been updated to correct a typo in the headline.

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