- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 29, 2008

Did ya know that Joe Biden was once terrified of public speaking? Yes, that Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware and former presidential candidate. The one who talks - a lot.

It may be hard to believe, but the man House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubbed “Mr. Sunday Morning” for his frequent appearances on political talk shows struggled as a child to overcome a debilitating stutter.

It got him excused from speaking during morning assembly at his Catholic high school and led his classmates to tease him with “Bu-bu-Biden.”

“It was like having to stand in the corner with the dunce cap,” Mr. Biden wrote in his 2007 book, “Promises to Keep.” “Even today I can remember the dread, the shame, the absolute rage, as vividly as the day it was happening.”

After trying everything from reciting poetry to shoving pebbles in his mouth, he conquered the fear in the same way he’s tackled everything in his life - with determination.

“I would memorize long passages of Yeats and Emerson, then stand in front of the mirror in my room … and talk talk talk,” he wrote. And of course he later realized, “What had terrified me in grade school and high school was turning out to be my strength … I found out I liked speaking in public.”

Mr. Biden, 65, opens his book explaining one of his father’s favorite phrases, which “has echoed through my life.”

“The world dropped you on your head? My dad would say, ‘Get up!’”

He used the philosophy when it seemed he’d been hit with things from which he’d never recover - the tragic death of his young wife and infant daughter, a scandal that crippled his first White House bid, and a brain aneurysm that nearly killed him. He’s adopted it now, nearly six months after ending his second presidential run, as he has transitioned almost seamlessly into the self-appointed role of Democratic foreign-policy point man.

Foreign-policy fighter

On the campaign trail, Mr. Biden would often say, “I can hardly wait to debate Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani on this!” He meant it. Though the nominee ended up being his colleague Sen. John McCain, Mr. Biden has taken the Republican on at full force.

Mr. Biden told The Washington Times he considers himself a “kind of truth squad” to take on Republican charges against Democrats and presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

“I don’t see how we win a general election for president unless the American public is convinced [we] have met the threshold requirement as someone they trust with confidence on national security,” he told The Times.

Mr. Biden heaps praise on Mr. Obama as someone “wise,” with the right judgment on foreign policy. And he has jabbed, and pushed, and prodded the Republicans every chance he gets.

As Foreign Relations Committee chairman when “the policies of the Republican Party have made us weaker than we have been in modern history,” Mr. Biden said feels responsible for exposing the “paucity” of GOP arguments on security and terrorism. Instead of taking GOP hits he will be “actually responding, every time they make some assertion about the Democratic Party or its candidates.”

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