Obamas, Clintons set to join Joe Biden at son's funeral - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Obamas, Clintons set to join Joe Biden at son's funeral

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Source: (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Source: (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
By Josh Lederman and Brian White

Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - President Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton were among the dignitaries set to join Vice President Joe Biden at the funeral Saturday of his eldest son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer a week ago.

Obama, accompanied by his family, planned to deliver a eulogy during the Roman Catholic Mass honoring Beau Biden, the White House said.

Biden's two surviving children, Hunter and Ashley, also were to speak, as was Gen. Ray Odierno, the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, where Beau Biden, 46, once served.

St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church typically seats less than 1,000 people, but portable seats were added for the service. Two hours before the funeral, mourners already were being directed to an overflow room.

Waiting in line to enter the church, Lisa Rial, 54, reflected on the deep respect she said Delaware's residents have for the Bidens.

"Joe Biden is Delaware, and his son is also Delaware to me," said Rial, who grew up in Delaware but lives in Pennsylvania. "They're synonymous with Delaware."

Beau Biden's casket lay in honor in the state Senate chamber on Thursday ahead of a public viewing at St. Anthony on Friday.

The vice president, whose wife and daughter were killed in a car crash four decades ago, developed a reputation over the years for possessing a deep ability to comfort those in grief. Often, he is called upon to eulogize fellow American leaders.

In 2012, he spoke of his son's service in Iraq as he tried to comfort a group of grieving military families.

"When he came home - it's going to sound strange to you - we felt almost a little guilty because he came home," Biden said at that time. "Because there's so many funerals I've attended, so many bases I've visited. And you know, not all losses are equal. Not all losses are equal."

Beau Biden served two terms as attorney general before setting his sights on the governor's mansion. Many imagined his career would mirror that of his father, who represented Delaware for decades in the U.S. Senate before becoming vice president.

But in 2010, at age 41, Beau Biden suffered a stroke. He was diagnosed with brain cancer three years later. He returned to work after what doctors said was a successful operation to remove a small lesion, but his illness returned, and he died last Saturday, less than two weeks after being admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

His death drew passionate expressions of sympathy from across the political spectrum, the sense of sadness heightened by the tragedy that the Biden family has endured over the years. It was just weeks after Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972 that Beau, then age 3, and his younger brother, Hunter, were injured in the car crash that killed their mother and infant sister.

White House officials said the choice of Obama to deliver a eulogy reflected the tight personal relationship that Joe Biden and the president have developed after more than six years together in the White House.

Lederman reported fromk Washington. Associated Press writer Randall Chase contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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