WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Joe Biden got emotional while talking to a voter about loss during his CNN town hall event in South Carolina.
Rev. Anthony Thompson, who lost his wife in the 2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting, asked Biden how he would use his faith in making decisions for the nation. The town hall broadcast Wednesday night.
“Reverend,” Biden began with tears in his eyes.“I kind of know what it’s like to lose family. And my heart goes out to you.”
Biden said he went to the church the Sunday after the shooting that took the lives of nine people, “because I had just lost my son and I wanted some hope.”
Biden’s political life has been defined by tragedy.
Just weeks before he was to be sworn in as a U.S. senator in 1972, his wife Neila and his daughter Naomi died in a car accident.
Then, decades later, in 2015, Biden’s son Beau, Delaware’s attorney general, died of brain cancer. The death of his son ultimately diverted Biden’s initial plans to run for president in 2016.
Biden commended the clergy for being able to forgive the shooter.
“All of those who died, were killed by this white supremacist, they forgave him,” Biden told the audience. “They forgave him. The ultimate act of Christian charity. They forgave him.”
Biden said he believes “faith sees best in the dark” and that for him “it’s important because it gives me some reason to have hope, and purpose.”
“I don’t know how you’ve dealt with it, reverend, but the way I’ve been able to deal with when my wife was killed and my daughter was killed and my son died, I’ve only been able to deal with it by realizing they’re part of my being,” Biden explained. “My son, Beau, was my soul.”
Before the network broke into a commercial break, the Biden could be seen wiping tears from his eyes and turning his back to the audience.
Biden is in South Carolina to campaign for the Saturday primary election in the state. He has consistently said he expects to win South Carolina, in part, because of the support he has received from the African-American community.
Contributing: Meredith Newman, The News Journal