Joe Biden

Interview with Jay Shetty of On Purpose Podcast

July 31, 2023

SHETTY: Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: How are you, man?

SHETTY: Such a pleasure.

BIDEN: Good to see you.

SHETTY:Thank you for this honor.

BIDEN: Well, thank you.

SHETTY: Very, very grateful.

BIDEN: [Begin clip] The day will come when you open that closet door and you smell the fragrance of her dresses, or you're going by that park where you walked with your child or your -- or your wife or your husband or the thing that reminds you that, for the longest time, will just bring a tear to your eye, but eventually, every once in a while, will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear in your eye.

BIDEN: When that happens, you know you're going to make it.

Unidentified: [Intro Reel] The best-selling author and host.

Unidentified: The No. 1 health and wellness podcast.

Unidentified: On Purpose with Jay Shetty.

SHETTY: [Pre-recorded introduction] I'm so grateful and honored that you're here with me right now. Thank you so much for all your love and all your support for On Purpose. It's incredible what we've been creating together, what we've been building together. And I'm so excited to share some big news with you. This is an extremely special interview today as I'm sitting down with the president of the United States, Joe Biden.

SHETTY: This is only possible because of all your love and support for the podcast and making us a platform that the president and his team felt was right to talk about mental health. This conversation is dedicated to the person behind the podium. I always want to get to know the human behind the title, behind the position, behind what they do in the world, and spotlight and shine a light on mental health.

SHETTY: We talk about so many of the things that he's gone through in his personal life. I'm so grateful that I got to have this conversation that we're going to share with the world at large and make sure that mental health is a mainstream conversation because it's so integral to all of our lives. I hope you enjoy this conversation.

SHETTY: Thank you for all your love and support. It means the world to me. [End pre-recorded introduction]

SHETTY: [Interview begins] Hey, everyone. Welcome back to On Purpose, the No. 1 health and wellness podcast in the world, thanks to each and every one of you that come back every week to learn, listen, and grow. Now, you know our mission here is to make the world happier, healthier, and more healed. And I believe that learning about people's stories of healing, of grief, of loss, of growth, is a powerful way to do that.

SHETTY: And today, I've been graciously invited to the White House, and I'm sitting with Mr. President, and I'm so grateful and honored to be here. And to have you on our platform and for you to choose our platform to have this conversation, I couldn't be more honored. Thank you so much.

BIDEN: Thank you. I'm flattered you'd want to interview me.

SHETTY: Absolutely. Well, let's dive straight in. The first question I'd like to ask you is, what is your earliest childhood memory that you believe defines who you are today and the person you've become?

BIDEN: The earliest memory I have is -- there's two of them. One is there was a bully in the neighborhood, lived down the -- an area called the plot, and we lived up the hill. And I was out with my friends in the alley behind our house, and my mother was at the pantry, looking out. The tough guy in the neighborhood smacked me. He's a couple of years older than me. And then I came in holding my face, and my grandfather was at the kitchen table and said, "What's the matter, Joe?" And he said, "That's a shame." I walked in and my mother said, "Joey, go back out there." So, go back out there. She said, "Walk up to -- wait till he walks up to you. As soon as he does, smack him right in the nose." In the nose. She said, "I'll give you $0.50 if you do it." And I said, "Why, Mom?" She said, "You won't be able to walk in that alley again if you don't." I was scared to death. I walked out, popped him in the nose. It bled. He ran, and I thought, huh?

SHETTY: It worked.

BIDEN: It worked. But -- and I -- I think the lesson I learned the most, though, is I used to stutter badly, and I would talk -- talk like -- like -- like -- like that. And then I'd catch my rhythm and be able -- and it was something that I thought was the worst curse could happen to me because everybody makes fun of it.

SHETTY: I had a similar experience with being bullied, so that resonates very strongly with me.

BIDEN: I think everybody does.


BIDEN: I -- I was the runt of the litter. No, I really was. I was a little guy, and I was a relatively good athlete even when I was a kid, but I literally was the runt of the litter.

SHETTY: Well -- well, for me, it was my weight. I was overweight growing up. And it was the color of my skin. I grew up in an area where I wasn't surrounded by a lot of Indian people. And so, those were the two reasons. Except my mother didn't give me that advice. Sometimes, I wish she did. My mother did the opposite. She actually came into my school and spoke to the teachers, which was really embarrassing at that age and, you know, not helpful for me.

BIDEN: Oh, no, I think maybe it is. You know, I -- I had a similar thing. I -- when I was in -- I went to Catholic grade school and high school. And you sit -- in those days, you sat in alphabetical order. I was in the first row. Biden, four people down. In reading class, everybody read a paragraph. I got to my paragraph, and I remember what it was because I used to try to memorize it rather than have to look at the word when I was rereading it [inaudible] And it said, "And he was a gentlemen." And then -- and the teacher said, "What's that, Mr. Biden?" He wanted -- she wanted to say gentleman, but it was easier to not stutter and say gentlemen. I said gentlemen. She said, "Mr. Biden, what is that?" And I got up and walked out and walked home, which is about two miles. And my mother was sitting there tapping the table when I walked in. She said, "Get in the car." Went down the car and we walked in and went to the principal's office. She sat me outside the door. The door was -- crying. I was one of those opaque glasses -- glass windows, and it didn't go to the ceiling. Anyway, to make a long story short, she said, "I'd like to speak to the teacher," my mother said. And she said, Ms. Biden -- she said, "I'd like to speak to the teacher." So, the teacher walks in, looked at me like you're in trouble now, Biden. Walked in and sat down. There was a crack in the door. I'll never forget this. And my mother, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, and she -- she looked and -- like I said, "What did you say to my son?" She said, "Did you say ba-ba-Biden?" "So, I was just trying to make a point, Mrs. Biden." She said, "If you ever do that again, I'll come back and rip that bonnet off your head. Do you understand me?" Swear to God.


BIDEN: Get up, walk down. Go back to class, Joey. But, you know, it's -- everybody has something that is tough, particularly when you're younger, and it makes such a difference when -- when somebody reaches out. I'm sure you had -- also had some experience where someone say, "Come on." Like, for example, there's more than a handful of young stutters, they're not so young anymore, that I still keep in touch with it. One young kid, he introduced me when I ran for president. It took such courage because he talk -- talks -- talk like -- like that. And he practiced and he practiced and he practiced. But it's had a profound impact on his life. Another young man, when I was vice president, he was -- I could tell -- you can tell a stutterer if you're a stutterer just by -- when he was in line with his mom. It was in Tennessee, and I was doing a thing for Al Gore. And -- and she introduced her son. And I could see him go, his lips. I said -- I said, "Hey, I'm about to finish my speech. Why don't you come help me write it?" And then the mother looked at me and he looked at me. I took him in, and I showed him how I marked up my speeches so that I could get a little cadence with what I did. Did you ever see the movie The King's Speech?

SHETTY: Yes, of course.

BIDEN: Well, the gentleman who had that -- had a copy of The King's Speech, who did it, sent me a copy. And I don't know if I had my book with me, but there's a -- one of these days, I'll show you my speeches. I looked at it, and he marks it up the same way. Every speech I mark up, it's the same way.

SHETTY: I think they might have it.

BIDEN: See the slash marks I put on?


BIDEN: Well, this is to help me. But, you know, there were people who reached out to me, too. Maybe that impediment was the best thing that ever happened to me.

SHETTY: It's incredible, isn't it, how a challenge that you're going through actually helps you become more compassionate and empathetic towards other people?

BIDEN: It's kind of human nature for most people. When you understand the pain someone is feeling, your first instinct is -- look, we -- we have an expression in the family from the time I was a kid. It's all about showing up. To just being there. I mean, I imagine the times when you were down because they're making fun of your Indian heritage in an all-white population, that having someone come up and say, "Hey, come on, you and me, let's do boom," makes a difference.

SHETTY: Absolutely. Yeah. I'll never forget, you've just reminded me. Ian Windess [ph] was his name. He was the toughest kid in school, and he had my back. That was that person that reached out to me. So, if anyone had a problem with me, they had a problem with him, and he'd -- he'd take care of them. I felt very safe. I felt very safe with Ian.

BIDEN: Well, it really is all about reaching out, isn't it? I mean, for real. Think of all the young people today. I think that there's more anxiety and loneliness today than there's been in a long, long time. You know my friend, I appointed Admiral Vivek Murthy. He was telling me about, you know, the percentage of young people today who are feeling lonely, alone. And sometimes, it's just -- just touching, just showing up. I used to get -- my deceased son, Beau, who should be sitting here instead of me, would always say, "Dad, you know what? I'm trying to make that call." You don't -- I'd -- I'd get in a plane and go home. And because someone had a serious problem, lost of wife, a daughter. And I -- and I -- and he said, "Dad, you don't have time." When he passed away, the hundreds of people who told me how he called, he showed up. He was there. And -- because of people who showed up for me, too. It just really matters.

SHETTY: Yeah. You've been through -- you mentioned today, you've been through so much tragic loss in your life. As you just mentioned there, you didn't run for presidency in 2016. Shortly after the loss of your son, you've lost your first wife and daughter in a horrific accident. I can't even begin to understand how someone has the courage to process that much loss and grief, let alone move forward in the way you have. It's truly admirable. How -- how did you begin?

BIDEN: I had an overwhelming advantage in the loss, and that was I had a really close family who was there. For example, when my wife and daughter were killed, my first wife and my two boys were very badly injured. A tractor-trailer broadsided. I was -- was not in the accident. When I got home from the hospital, my sister and her husband already gave up their apartment and moved in to help me raise my kid. My brother, we lived in a suburban area. It was more country than suburban. And there was a little barn, a garage barn. My -- my brother came, and he turned the loft of the barn into an apartment for himself. They were there for me all the time. That was a gigantic difference. My best friend in my life are my sister and my brothers. And -- and so, I had an enormous advantage. And I think that when you see people who are going through something tough, it does matter if you reach out. I mean, it -- it does matter. Like, for example, you know, you have -- when you're a senator for all the years I was in a small state, you know so many people and people would pass away. You'd show up at the wake or the funeral no matter what was happening. I learned it early on. People would stop and just come and throw their arms around me because if they know you know the pain they feel, they get some solace in it. It's not always easy, but it's -- it just matters just to -- just to reach out. Let people know you see them.

SHETTY: How did you allow yourself to receive that help, too? I feel like, as you were mentioning earlier, with the loneliness and anxiety that exists, a lot of people either struggle to know what to say. I think we live in a society where people are like, "Well, what do I say if they've gone through that?"

BIDEN: Yeah. Yeah.

SHETTY: And the opposite end, what you just said, being able to be open enough to actually receive help requires a certain amount of courage and strength as well.

BIDEN: Well, I was raising a family for real, an extended family, my grandparents as well, where my dad had an expression: Family is the beginning, middle, and end. There's a rule in the family growing up. Not a joke. We didn't know it at the time, but whenever you wanted to speak to your mother or father, I mean, they said, can we -- he had a problem.

SHETTY: No matter what they're doing, they stopped. No matter what they were doing, they stopped and heard you -- listen to you. And I did the same with my children. And then they did the same with theirs. Because it's a -- it's a matter of them knowing that you -- they are the most important thing in your life.

BIDEN: If they got a problem, you're there to listen. I have seven grandkids. Four of them -- all five of them old enough to talk on the phone. You know, every day, I either text them or call them. And as matter of fact, during campaign, they were -- they were having a -- I didn't realize they're having an interview, the four oldest grandchildren. They said -- and just at the time when they said -- they call me pop. Pop calls us every day or texts us every day. And I called them. The phone rang.

SHETTY: While they're in the interview?

BIDEN: While -- I give you my word, I had no idea they're in an interview. But it's -- look, I -- I just think being there is -- is important and -- and makes such a difference, I think, and knowing that someone's going to be there for you, just to listen, just to -- just to hold you. Just to hug you.

SHETTY: Yeah. I believe you're right. I -- I believe we often overcomplicate things. We think we have to say the perfect thing. We have to have the solution. We have to be able to fix all these problems.

BIDEN: I agree. But it's just -- half is just showing up. Even people you don't know that well, but you've met. The fact you'd call and say I'm thinking of you. I learned this from my experience. The day will come when you open that closet door and you smell the fragrance of her dresses or you walk -- going by that park where you -- where you -- where you walked with your child or your -- or your wife or your husband or the thing that reminds you, and for the longest time, will just bring a tear to your eye. But eventually, every once in a while, will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. When that happens, you know you're going to make it. That's the moment you know I make -- doesn't mean you still don't cry. Doesn't mean the pain still isn't -- isn't real, even years later. But you know you can make it. I think there's an advantage, sometimes, if you have deep faith, whether you're, you know, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, you know, whatever. My family, when they want to get an important message to me, they tape it on the mirror of the bathroom. I'm serious. Not a joke.

SHETTY: So, you wake up in the morning and --

BIDEN:   Yeah. No, it's -- it's on the mirror. I guess I was down early on, miss -- not going to be 10 years ago. I was down or something. And my daughter actually taped on my -- she's a social worker, taped on my mirror, happiness is something -- something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. And, Dad, you have all those things. Just to remind you, you know

SHETTY: I think what you just said about the smile before the tear is probably one of the realest things I've ever heard. I think we often are trying to create a world in which we only have smiles and where we put pressure on ourselves and the people around us to be forever happy. And what you just said there was -- was really, really resonated with me. It really hit me, actually, the idea that you will cry, it will happen. But that tiny smile that you experience, even through a loss, even through grief, you're fortunate that you got to have that experience that allowed you to find that smile at that time. And I feel like you've been through so many obstacles in your life, but I'd love to know what you see as the relationship between vulnerability and strength, especially as a leader, because I think leaders have an overarching pressure to display strength in a certain way. I'll give you an example. I coach several CEOs and individuals, athletes, and others. And one of the CEOs who leads a large organization called me a few months ago, and we were working through some things together. And at one point I said to them, I said, "It would be really wonderful for you to tell your teams that you lead what you've been going through and growing through." And they said, "Jay, I don't know if I can tell them. I don't -- I don't know if I can tell them." And I said, "Why?" And they said, "Well, because it will look like I'm weak." And I said to them, "Well, no, you being vulnerable and sharing your growth is the greatest strength. That's not a weakness." But that was new because so many leaders feel they have to portray a certain type of strength. But even today, I can see there's a grace in the way you're sharing.

BIDEN: Well, I -- I have a rule that I thought that everybody in my -- my staff knew because I -- I had -- when I was a senator for a long time, at one point, I don't know how they measured it, but I had the same staff longer than anybody in -- in -- in the Senate at the time. For example, we were doing a very, very important Supreme Court hearing. I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And we worked on it very hard and did all the research and, you know -- anyway. And there was one young man who people say he was invaluable because he's the guy who knew all the detail about certain things. And I found out that he was having trouble at home. And I said, "I want you to go home. Don't come to the hearing." He said, "I can't." "Go home. Go home. And you know why? Because I would go home." I have a thousand bosses, but only one me. No one -- and so I know when I had crashes at home, raising the boys, I went home. I don't know how many years ago it was, but in this job and as vice president, another person was having some trouble at home. And I found out, but I said, "Go home." They said, "No, no, I can't. I got to." I said, "If you don't go home, I'm going to fire you. Go home." A relationship is a hell of a lot more important than whatever you're doing for me. So, that's a rule we have. Not a joke. Absolutely not. And you never have to tell me why. All you got to say is I'm not going to be in. I take it your word. If it turns out you're playing games with me, I'll learn. But I -- I know you too well. Take the time because you're not getting any better than your relationship. And it's a little bit what you were just talking about. And -- and, you know, I think -- you have to ask my staff. I don't know. But I think they -- as long as they know, that's more important, more important than doing whatever specific thing you're doing at that moment for me.

SHETTY: How do you apply that rule when it feels like what they are working on this specific moment seems obviously to be the most important thing in the world? How do you --

BIDEN: Well, because there's only one advantage of getting older. You've had a lot of experience and -- and you can apply a little bit of wisdom. It's really critical.


BIDEN: And by the way, there's a selfish aspect to it, because when you have a problem with someone you love or some problem, you're -- you know, you've got to deal with it.

SHETTY: Yeah. And you can't even perform as well.

BIDEN: Exactly right.

SHETTY: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. You've, every day for years, had to make difficult and stressful decisions, high stakes, hugely impactful on so many people. When you're making decisions, do you follow your head, your heart, your gut? How do you think about decision-making?

BIDEN: I don't know how to separate the three. Many times, my heart brings me to the problem and my gut tells me what I think I want to do. But my head, meaning the research that back -- sometimes says that's the wrong answer. I think you're driven by a value set. You know what you value. You know what you think is important in life. You know what you think is consequential. And I think people who know what they value, doesn't mean they're better or worse. But if you follow your value set, to me, they're kind of basic things. My dad used to have an expression, for real. He said, "Joey, everyone's entitled to be treated with dignity. Everybody." Dignity was his word. Dignity. And what I find myself looking through the prism, for example, I was at an event the other day where I was talking, and I -- we're talking about a problem a mom was having, providing for the health -- the needs of a child, of actually a teenager. I said, "All I can think of when hearing about not being able to afford the treatment was how she's deprived of her dignity." Imagine being a parent and you can't do anything about it because you don't have the financial wherewithal, because you don't have the connection, because you don't know where to go. It's a little bit like, you know, I think the most dangerous, the most hated word in the English language and any other language translated is cancer. You have cancer. It just strikes fear in everybody. Well, it's one thing to get an analysis by a great doctor, but you still need someone to guide you through. It's complicated. And we're finding significant breakthroughs in cancer. But you need someone to sort of lead you through who knows about it. I think it's the same way with about any problem people have. If there's a way to let people know there's an avenue, there's a way through. You know, I used to have a friend named Bob Gold, who -- who -- who died of a heart attack. And I used to say, "Bob, do you understand me?" He said, "Joe, I -- I understand you. I overstand you." But you got to know how to know. And -- and that's why we can be so -- little things that can be of enormous value. It's like, you know, you're walking across an intersection. They don't let me do that anymore, but you walk across the intersection and there's a, you know, an elderly man or woman knowing they're waiting to see if they have enough time. Just grabbing their hand and walk them across. It's a -- it's a little tiny thing, but it -- the anxiety it relieves.

SHETTY: Yeah. No, that -- that resonates, the idea of the more we're a part of the solution, the less the problem feels overwhelming.

BIDEN: I think so. I have to admit, when you've been through something that's been particularly difficult, helping someone going through it again forces you to relive your experience. Like, for example, the people I admire when we have functions where we're trying to make a point of how we can help someone with health care, whatever it is. The people who've been through it who show up and support it, I always compliment them because it's like it happened yesterday when you start to focus on. And it's hard. We underestimate what we can do. Not -- I am not -- I don't know about time being president, I mean just what we can do in terms of dealing with people. I try to understand what is motivating the other person when I'm doing things internationally or when I -- personally. Because if you can understand what motivates them, there's a shot. Even with the bad guys, you can break through and get something done. There's a way to expose the meanness without causing direct conflict. For example, I remember, I went to a Catholic grade school. We didn't often get invited to the cotillion, which was at the local school down the street at the Mount Pleasant School. And so, I got invited, and I was going to go. I was all excited about going. I think it was ninth grade, maybe it's eighth grade, a little dance. And there was a guy who was a good athlete. I was a relatively good athlete, and he was a good athlete from that school, the other school, big guy. Became friends. But -- so, I'm getting dressed, and I didn't have a shirt to wear. So, my mother got my uncle's shirt, who was a smaller man than my dad and French cuffs and rolled up the cuffs so that look like it -- it fit. And I couldn't find my dad's -- we couldn't find my dad's cufflinks, so my mom went and got a nut and a bolt. I wonder why she was down downstairs in the laundry room, looking for it and put them on. I said, "Mom, I can't do this. They'll make fun of me. I'll be embarrassed." She said, "Anybody comes up and said that, then you look at them and say," and here's this gentleman to say -- this guy, Frank, came up to me and said, "Hey, look at Biden. Look what he's got here. Hey." And I looked at him and said, "You don't have a pair of these?" And he said, "Well, uh, yeah, yeah, I got a pair." But I'm serious.

SHETTY: How -- how do you assess people's motivations? Like you were just saying there that when you can understand someone's motivation, you can almost disarm them without exposing them, which is what you just gave that example of now. How -- how do we do that so that we go to the root of it? I think, often, we get so caught up in what someone's -- what we think someone's thinking or what we think someone's saying, but actually going to the heart of it and the root of it.

BIDEN: You know, it's hard to explain. I get credit for -- these days for sort of holding the international community together, and I try to understand what the circumstance the other world leader is facing and see if there's a way -- what I -- what needs to be done, there's a way through that he doesn't or she doesn't have to make a great sacrifice to do what she's doing but help make the case why they're helping others. But there's ways to do that. And it doesn't require the person -- if there's -- they have a fundamental difference with you on a subject. But if they're doing something because they don't have the political bandwidth to be able to do it at home, you can provide it. I will say to some leader sometimes, "Well, why don't you let me criticize you for this or thank you for that or what." And most of the time -- now, you're going to do that off the top of your head. You got to know some of these people. They'll go, OK, or why don't you -- why don't you criticize me? Why don't you criticize me for my not doing something? And then I'll respond and say, OK, and then you can do what you want to do. It's just basic human nature. But I think -- I think trying to figure out what leeway a person has. I don't expect everybody to -- that I'm dealing with to appear in the second edition of Profiles in Courage, nor me. I mean, it's hard. But there's ways you can work -- not always, but you can work through things where you can allow the other person to save face and still get to where you want to go.


BIDEN: And sometimes, it works with when you're working with two people.


BIDEN: To get that done.


BIDEN: But it's -- it's just trying to figure out what is really -- what impediments are in their way to keep them from being able to do what you know, you feel in your -- your gut you know they know they should do.

SHETTY: That's a great perspective. I'm so happy you shared that because so many of us are fixated on what we want out of something or where we want to get to or what our challenges are. But, Mr. President, I'm so grateful for your graciousness and kindness in giving me this time today. We end every On Purpose interview with a Final Five.

BIDEN: Uh-oh.

SHETTY: And these final five questions are questions we ask every guest. And there are some -- some great ones in here for you. So, the first question I'm going to ask you is what is the best advice you've ever received and what's the worst advice you've ever received?

BIDEN: I guess the best advice I ever received is show up. Just show up. Be there and get up. My mother used to say, "Joey, get up. Never bow, never been, never -- get up. Just get up." And -- but showing up is just -- that's a big part. And I guess the worst advice I've ever received was holding a grudge because lots of times when people do something that is really not good, it's because they were fearful when they did it. Not fearful of you, but their circumstance. And it gets you nowhere, which means people doubt if I'm really Irish. The joke inside was Biden is really Irish. But all kidding aside, remembering is important, but holding a grudge is -- is not helpful.

SHETTY: Very true. Very true. First time for both of those answers. I love it. OK. Second question. A lot of Americans today are seeking therapy as a form of support. Where does the president seek support and guidance in your own challenges and journey?

BIDEN: Well, my best friend is my wife. A woman who is probably had more to do with my success than anyone is my sister Valerie and my brother Jim. And I think that's the place where I go most. But also, I have a great advantage. Over the years, I've -- I've -- I've grown to have some great, great relationships with people I've worked with and/or -- or one of my staff. And I think most of my staff would tell you, the senior staff, is I don't treat them like they work for me. I treat them, which they are. They know the reason I hire them. I want them to know more than I know. And there are some things that -- that I seek advice from -- from a religious perspective, but that's really personal.

SHETTY: Yeah. Beautiful. OK. Third question. I believe it's been said that you told your first wife when you met her that you wanted to be -- or one day you would be the president of the United States. Is that true?

BIDEN: No, it's not true. I love it. I read all this. What I did tell her --


BIDEN: And I -- and the same with -- no man deserves one great love, let alone two. For real. The two women that I married, one passed away, were women I knew when I went out with them the first time, I wanted to marry them. My first wife, I -- I told her when I met her, we went to -- I went -- I had $89 tax return. I'm at Five Guys down to Florida. And -- and I don't drink. So, I was bored with all that. So, I went to -- with three, I went to Nassau. Before, you could apply for 25 bucks round trip. And I met my -- my deceased wife, and I told her when -- when -- when I hung out with her for four days down there on the beach and -- that I was going to marry her. And she looked at me and said, "I think so." And I started commuting every day, every weekend when I was -- I was a senior in college. That's how I ended up at Syracuse. She's in there. And my present wife was -- it was a blind date that my brother set up for us. And I knew it when I saw her. I -- I was on that 10 most bachelors list for five years, and it's not a fun thing because there were a lot of them. Don't get me wrong, a lot of nice people, but I just kind of given up on -- I was thinking I could have a -- and I got the blind date. I'll never forget, my brother said, "You like her. She doesn't like politics."

SHETTY: I'm glad to asked that question. Question number four, this is very important to social media. So, the question is, there are so many shows today based on the presidency, the White House, mirroring it, shows on TV, streaming platforms, which one is the most accurate and which one is the least accurate?

BIDEN: Mission Impossible.

SHETTY: The most or least most?

BIDEN: Both. Look, I -- one of the problems I have is I don't, and I should, I don't watch much television. No. And it's -- it's not because I'm above it or anything like that. It's just that, for example, for 36 years after the accident occurred and I commuted every day, 300 miles a day. And -- and -- and the press actually, I had one -- I got to know all the conductors so well. They became friends. And one day, as vice president, I was going home on the train, which the Secret Service doesn't like because there's so many opportunities to interrupt the train. And this particular, I'm not going to embarrass him and say his name, company, grabbed me in the cheek, and he said, "Joey, baby." I thought they were going to shoot him. Anyway. I said, no, no, he's a friend. He said, "I just read in the paper, you traveled 1,100,000 miles on Air Force planes," because you got a list how many miles you're traveling. And he said, "Big deal." He said, "Joey, we had a retirement dinner. So, you know what we figured out? You know how many miles you traveled on Amtrak?" I said no. He said, "1,200,000 miles, 119 days a year, 300 a day -- 300 miles round trip, 36 years plus --" My point was, I was on a train lot. And so, when I get home, there wasn't much to watch. I mean, not it was the watch, but I'd -- I'd always make sure -- I think -- and I think, you know, you ever -- all your guests know this that children need to know that they're the most important thing in your life. So, even if I got home late, I'd climb in bed or my two boys at the time and just even if they're asleep and get up in the morning. And it wasn't like Ozzie and Harriet, I wasn't fixing their breakfast. But I'd be there and have breakfast with them. They'd take off for school. I take off for the train. So, I've been back and forth so much I haven't -- I just haven't watched many. And by the way, there's a lot of good stuff, I'm sure. I mean, every once in a while I turn it on. And by the way, they got a great advantage here. You got a movie theater.

SHETTY: Yeah. Inside?

BIDEN: Yeah. And they -- they tell me I -- I get this list what movies are in. And we have the -- the -- the new one, that's the -- oh, the --

SHETTY: Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer. Yeah. I haven't seen it yet.

BIDEN: I haven't either. Yeah.

SHETTY: They're -- they're the movies I see these days. I get to see them at night once in a while.

BIDEN: OK. Very nice. Amazing. All right. And fifth and final question, we asked this question to every guest who has ever been on the show, but it truly is unique asking you this question. If you could create one law in the world that everyone had to follow, what would it be? I don't think it's a matter of being able to have any one law that could change people's attitudes. I think -- I'm optimistic. I think we have -- we're on the cusp -- we're at a time of real change. And -- and we're at an inflection point in world history. Whether I'm president or not, things are going to change drastically. And you see it happening all around the world. And we have an enormous opportunity. But the thing I want to want to -- want to change is the American attitude that we can do anything. We can do anything. There's nothing we've ever set our mind to that we've not been able to do if we've done it together. For real. And so, I laid out four things that I thought were critically important in my State of the Union. One was to make a fundamental change in cancer treatment. We can cure a lot. And that's why I've put another $6 billion. I mean, pick the impossible thing. I have -- Caroline Kennedy gave me a copy of President Kennedy's -- part of President Kennedy's speech when about going to the moon. He said, because we refused to postpone. We have to refuse to postpone anymore. There's so much we can do. And I mean it. I believe it with every fiber of my being. I've been doing this a long time, and I've never been more optimistic about our chances than now. That's why when I ran, I said I ran for three reasons. One, to restore the soul of America's sense of decency, just the way we talk to one another. Secondly, to build this country from the middle out and the bottom up. The wealthy still do very well, but everybody has a shot. And thirdly, to unite the country. And I think we can do it. I really genuinely do. And -- but then again, as my -- often referred to, I'm a cockeyed optimist. But -- but I really believe it.

SHETTY: Mr. President, thank you so much for the honor. I'm so grateful. I have two tiny requests for you. I'd love -- I'd love for you, if you don't mind, to walk me through what's here because I saw these beautiful pictures when I walked in, and I thought they looked really special. And I'd love for you to share them.

BIDEN: This one. My dad was a -- was a real gentleman and a well-read man. Never got a chance to go to college. And he'd always said, "Joey, never explain, never complain." And so, we were having my fourth reelection effort as a senator in the late '90s, and my dad was over at our house to, you know, to be there with me. And I was standing on this back porch, overlooking this pond. I built a smaller home when the home we had, everybody moved out. But it sits on a pond, a 10-acre pond. And I was saying, my deceased wife, she lived in Lake Skaneateles, and the Finger Lakes is beautiful. She -- and I said, you know, I wish Neilia could have seen this. And so -- and my dad thought I was going to feel sorry for myself. So, he came. He said, "I'll be back." And he took off and he went up to the local Hallmark store and came back with this cartoon. This is his philosophy in life. It's Hagar the Horrible. Lightning strikes. His boat's going down. He's looking up to God and having to say why me? The next frame of voice [inaudible] comes by, why not? My dad would always say, "What makes you so special? You don't have these problems." I'll put it down here. The other ones, there's a bunch there, but --


BIDEN: Anything you want to highlight?

SHETTY: Well, one of my favorite ones is of that -- that one, my son Beau. This is when he came home from being in Iraq for a year with his unit. And this is his son, little Hunter. Got on his shoulders and wouldn't get off his shoulders, just would not, I mean, for hours was on his shoulders. The others are my mom and dad. My -- that's my daughter, the love of my life, the life of my love. Anyway, there's a lot up there. I'm -- Beautiful.

BIDEN: I'm probably boring the hell out of you.

SHETTY: Not at all. Not at all. I -- I thought it was wonderful to see them when I came in, so thank you.

BIDEN: Well, like I said, my dad really was one of these guys and -- and I was about -- and so was my mother's side of the family. That family, my dad would say, is the beginning, the middle, and the end. And I believe it is. I mean, I know what you're trying to do is all those folks out there that are lonely and all those folks out there that are feeling uneasy. All those folks out there that aren't sure. I don't know. I just -- just sometimes, just reaching out. It makes a difference.

SHETTY: Thank you, Mr. President.

BIDEN: Thank you.

SHETTY: Thank you so much.

BIDEN: You're doing good work for people. I really mean it. Thank you.

SHETTY: Thank you. That means the world coming from you. And I look forward to many more conversations.

BIDEN: Thank you.

SHETTY: Thank you.

Joseph R. Biden, Interview with Jay Shetty of On Purpose Podcast Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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