Posted: Oct. 19, 2004


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is out there making the political headlines he always does in an election season, but this time his son Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III is turning up increasingly in the fine print.

Joe and Beau. Joe Biden is two years into his sixth term, a state record, and so much a part of the national Democratic constellation that he keeps getting mentioned for secretary of state if John F. Kerry can pull this election out. Beau Biden is a Wilmington lawyer, a former federal prosecutor almost universally regarded as being on the threshold of his own political career.

Joe Biden is 61. Beau Biden is 35. Joe Biden was such a precocious politician, getting elected to the Senate at 29, that Beau looks more like Joe than Joe does.

Joe Biden has been winging around the country for Kerry. He is just back from Florida, Kentucky, Colorado and New York City and was flying out Tuesday afternoon for Boston, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Pennsylvania, all on his schedule before the election -- "and then I'm coming home and staying home."

He was home in Delaware for a time on Tuesday for another one of those headline acts -- speaking to about 300 people at a political rally for the labor unions at a United Auto Workers hall in Prices Corner near Newport.

U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr., an array of the state's leading Democratic officeholders, also spoke. This election really is nearly here.

Almost standard these days, Joe Biden invoked Beau Biden's name as a means of personalizing why foreign policy is so critical in the presidential election. Beau Biden is a lieutenant in the Delaware Army National Guard, and Joe Biden said the decisions the country makes will determine whether his son goes to Iraq and gets the support he needs if he does.

The rally was a very public event. By contrast, Beau Biden made his mark recently at a not-so-public event. Last week he and his wife Hallie hosted a fund-raiser for Minner at their Wilmington home.

The reception was said to generate about $70,000 for the governor's campaign, which is expected to put on an all-out media blitz these last two weeks to try to pull away from William Swain Lee, the Republican ex-judge who may be closer in the rear view mirror than the Democrats would like.

Naturally -- wink, wink -- there was no talk about the possibility that Minner, if she is re-elected, would have to appoint a replacement for Joe Biden, if he really does become secretary of state, and Joe Biden has mentioned that Beau Biden would be a good choice for it.

"Beau and I haven't talked about that," Minner said.

All that Beau Biden would say was, "I offered to help the governor any way I can, and this was one way I can help. I was honored to and eager to help."

Of course, there has to be an opening before Minner even has the opportunity to appoint a senator. Two weeks before the election, neither Carper nor Joe Biden were counting on a Kerry presidency.

"If the election were today, I think he would lose narrowly. Fortunately the election is not today. These things ebb and flow, and the question is who will be ebbing and flowing on Election Day," Carper said.

"Every place I've gone, there is an overwhelming surge in registration. It's spontaneous. There's something going on, but I would not bet [daughter] Ashley's graduate school tuition on it," Joe Biden said.

Oh well. For Beau Biden, there is always that spot on the Democratic ticket for attorney general in 2006, anyway.