An Interview: Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 1975, In A Format You Can Read
April 24, 2019, 09:21 PM
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In the quest to root out old Badthinkfulness, the Washington Post dug up an old Biden interview from when he was the youngest Senator, and printed the Crimethink bits. They also helpfully posted the excerpt from the Congressional Record as PDF. [Biden’s tough talk on 1970s school desegregation plan could get new scrutiny in today’s Democratic Party, by Matt Viser, The Washington Post, March 7, 2019 and Transcript of then-Sen. Biden’s interview with The People Paper, March 7, 2019 (PDF)]

This is, however, very difficult to read, especially on a phone. Weaving columns in PDF are just awful to read, so I've scanned the whole thing and posted it, without comment. (There will be comments later, this is a public service.) I'm aware that there are some scanning errors which will Result in Occasional rogue Capitalization, but am going for speed here.

An Interview: Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

From TV News—the People Paper. Sept. 13-19, 1975

(Interview By Joe Farley—Part I)

(No Delaware politician’s star has risen faster or higher than that of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. At the age of 29, Biden became the youngest man ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate after defeating J. Caleb Boggs, one of Delaware’s all-time political favorites. A native of Delaware, Biden graduated from Archmere Academy and the University of Delaware before leaving the state to study law at Syracuse University. After receiving his law degree, Biden returned to Wilmington and established himself as a trial attorney. He entered politics via election to New Castle County Council and served there for two years, fighting to establish comprehensive long-range plans for county land development. Calling himself the U.S. Senate’s’ “token young person" Biden has received considerable national attention by press and politicians alike, and has established himself as an energetic worker in many areas. He currently serves as a member of the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and the new Senate Budget Committee and is fast becoming one of his party’s most-requested speakers across the nation. 8enator Biden, a widower, lives near Wilmington with his two sons and commutes to Washington dally while the Senate is in session. In this first installment of a two-part interview, Senator Biden talks about U.S. foreign policy, Henry Kissinger, nuclear power plants, and the 1976 presidential race.)

TV News. Senator, you’ve been in Washington since January, 1973. How would you assess your first two and a half years on Capitol Hill? Is it really what you expected it to be?

Biden. I've been surprised by two things. First, before I came here, I assumed that the United States Senate, as a body, had more influence on what occurs in the nation than it in fact does. And secondly. I came here thinking that a freshman senator could have no influence on the Senate as a whole. I've been proven wrong on both counts. The Senate has exercised less of its responsibility on the body politic than I believe it could and should, although things have gotten somewhat better during the last eight months. And I’ve found that a freshman senator—if he’s done his homework—can have considerably more influence than I thought possible. I've been quite lucky in my committee assignments: the Foreign Relations Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Banking. Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. So, in a jurisdictional sense, I’m dealing with those areas in which I have both some expertise and Interest— housing on one hand, fiscal and monetary responsibilities on the other, and foreign policy, which is probably my "first love.” I really thought that for the first term I would be expected to be seen and not heard, to be limited in what I could get done, but that has not been the case.

TV News. You spoke of foreign policy as your "first love.” How do you feel about President Ford's actions in that area? It has been said that foreign policy is not his strong suit.

Biden. President Ford has not taken any new initiatives in foreign policy; he's conducting it in the manner of the 50's and 60 s—basically a "cold war" philosophy, with a tinge of detente. In his "state of the world” message about seven months ago, he discussed every part of the world and there was no fundamental change of policy in any area. He spoke of all areas as having equal priority. He is still married to the concept that we can police the whole world, that we must stand up and be counted whenever communism—whatever that means, in the international sense—is a threat.

There seems to be less emphasis on identifying self-interest than there is on that whole machismo thing that has guided foreign policy for so long. John Kennedy, a man I admired, may have been right for the early 60's, but his foreign policy would be wrong for 1975. Remember his Inaugural Address—we will fight any fight, light any torch, defend any freedom . . . that kind of thing. We Just can't do that anymore. Secondly, I think that Gerald Ford relies extremely heavily on Secretary Kissinger for his position with regard to foreign policy.

TV News. Recent press points to an apparent loss of effectiveness on the part of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Many observers seem to be saying that he is not the diplomat we were led to believe he was during the Nixon years. Is that a fair evaluation?

Biden. It is a bit unfair to Secretary Kissinger, because he was never the superman his followers—Democrats and Republicans alike—made him out to be. We tend to make instant heroes out of our public figures, turn them into clay which then becomes very brittle. Then we break them. We say, "See, they never were what they said they were," but they never said they were what we said they were. Can you follow that? Now, Kissinger has done very little to shun that superman image; he apparently likes it. Yet, I think he was never as effective, nor could he have been as effective, as he was given credit for being at the peak of his success. It is a considerable mistake to allow one man to carry the entire foreign policy on his shoulders, to have a one-man show. Because when he falters or makes a mistake—and every individual makes mistakes—then, in fact, the whole policy comes to a standstill.

The whole negotiating posture crumbles, as it did recently in the Middle East. People tend to say, “Well, if Henry can't do it, then no one can. We may as well forget it." That's a mistake. Another example: His actions with regard to the evacuation procedure and withdrawal from Southeast Asia (Vietnam) were incorrect; we took more of a risk than we needed to take. The thing that is so dangerous about a one-man foreign policy is that one man only has so much time; be can only concentrate on certain areas at a time. So while he focuses his attention on the Middle East, NATO falls apart. When he turns his attention to NATO, Southeast Asia comes unraveled. Various parts of the world are either neglected in fact or at least appear to be neglected; these foreign policy ramifications affect us domestically as well. Kissinger is less effective, or seems to be less effective now. In part because he was never what he appeared to be, and in part because his policies are bearing some bitter fruit at this point.

TV News. Do you see Secretary Kissinger remaining on with President Ford through 1976?

Biden. I'm always wrong when I get involved in political prognostication, so I'd like to defer on that one. The only two people who know the answer are Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger.

TV News. In terms of this “watch-dog of the world” role, do you foresee any serious future involvements with regard to our troops in Korea? Will it turn into another "hot-spot"?

Biden. Sure, I can see that happening. We have troops stationed in Korea. Now. If the U.S. is sitting there with its hands in its pockets, troops and military equipment there, and the mad-man in the north decides to reinstitute open hostilities and invades across the border—we are in a war. There's no time to sit and think about what we should do. whether or not we want to get involved. We have 42,000 troops there, and you know how the public side of foreign policy works: the President goes on television. the camera shows American troops under siege, and right away the question becomes, “Are we going to sit here and take that?” Or, the more important question: "What do we need to do to protect the American boys there?”

But what I'm getting at is that, in this situation, we have very little choice—the policy consideration I believe we should go through would be vitiated by the circumstances. When we are talking about commitment of American lives and money, we should be saying, "What is our self-interest here?” Not simply an altruistic reason—we're here to "save" democracy, for instance. We should be asking, "How does it affect America and American lives?” There are at least three primary self-interest considerations: (1) self-interest in terms of physical security; (2) economic self-interest: and, (3) moral self-interest. Physical security hasn't been a big problem for a while, but economic security certainly is a current problem. Are we having our markets cut off, creating an adverse impact on the domestic economy? When we have a trillion dollar Gross National Product, exports of 195 billions, then we are interlocked around the world, like it or not. An example of the moral self-interest would be the fact that we cannot renege on our commitment to Israel. The repercussions domestically would be tremendous if we allowed Israel and two million Jews to be pushed into the sea. The same holds true for western Europe—we have strong cultural, ethnic, and hereditary ties there…everything from mothers and fathers who still live there, to our whole inheritance of a jurisprudential system. We simply can't let it "go down the tube.” But these are the things, the real things, we should be considering.

TV News. How do you feel about Korea?

Biden. I feel that we should withdraw the troops. There is one argument that has some merit, though I’m not entirely convinced yet. The argument is that China and Russia do not want the U.S. to leave Southeast Asia because it will create a vacuum. China doesn’t want Russia to move in, and Russia doesn't want China to move in any further. So far, both have refused to support North Korea in any further military action against South Korea. Now of course, China has another powerful army and potent political force in Southeast Asia: the Vietnamese. But it isn't in the interest of China or Russia to foster further confrontation there at this time, because they don't want the U.S. pulling out. The only real reason to stay is that. If we left. Japan would become very skittish. Right now, Japan—like West Germany—has been content to reap the economic benefits of not having to maintain a standing army or of becoming a nuclear power. And I would rather pay the economic price to keep those two powers disarmed, in effect, than to create a situation where they would have to rearm and become nuclear powers in their own self-interest. So the only justification I see for remaining in South Korea is Japan.

We’re not there to save the South Koreans, or to fight to keep the dominoes from falling, or to be the last bastion of liberty on the Asian mainland. It is simply not in our self-interest for Japan to become a major military and nuclear power in Asia.

TV News. What are your feelings about Portugal and its current state of flux?

Biden. Portugal is important to us in several ways. It is a cog in the NATO alliance, and if the government goes communist there are indications it would be a fairly radical brand of communism. That, of course, would have the effect of knocking hell out of NATO; our allies would be hard-pressed, as we would, with regard to stationing of troops, use of bases, not to mention access to and dissemination of nuclear information. But I don’t think the ball game is over yet in Portugal, though I'm not sure which way things will go. The Secretary of State should be keeping the Congress better informed of what is happening there so we can formulate a position with regard to which way we want to go. I'm not talking about military intervention, but the outcome in Portugal is more important to our self-interest than the outcome in Korea. We have more things directly affected by it.

TV News. Getting back to Delaware, how do you feel about the proposed nuclear power plant Delmarva Power and Light wants to build in Delaware?

Biden. I co-sponsored legislation with John Tunney (D.-California) which. in effect, said we would have delayed the development of the breeder reactor—which is being pushed as the next step in reactor development— until we get more information about safeguards in terms of construction and operation of nuclear plants. But, I'm not prepared today to take a position in opposition to construction of nuclear power plants anywhere. I am prepared, however, to say that we don't have enough information to construct such a facility and absolutely guarantee to the population that they need have no concern or fear, that regulations are so tight and construction techniques so good that we don’t have to worry about any repercussions from leakage, accidents, or sabotage with regard to the maintenance of the plant.

TV News. You served on the New Castle County Council before coming to the U. S. Senate. What do you think about the recent movement in the General Assembly to abolish all county governments in Delaware? Is comity government needed?

Biden. I think it is needed. And, if you look at its record since 1966, you will find that it has been more responsive than state government has been. For instance, the county government has a significant budget that affects the development of the county. The state has shown little or no inclination to deal with the very serious problems of land use and development, and I think there is a need for a county agency to determine exactly what happens in that area. I am aware, of course, that county government has received considerable bad publicity recently because of some indictments of both present and former members. I'm afraid that that has given impetus to the misnomer that county government is a "do-nothing” operation which is no longer needed. Yet, I firmly believe that the only reason things aren't worse than they are, in terms of random land development, is because county government has acted responsibly. It has generated a great deal of citizen participation, and by and large the caliber of people who have served on the council has been good. I think it would be a big mistake to abolish it.

TV News. Back on the national scene— what man do you feel could beat President Ford in '76?

Biden. I think any of them could beat President Ford.

TV News. Do you really believe that?

Biden. First of all, making predictions about what will happen 18 months from now is exceedingly difficult. But, let's face it—the President doesn't have a whole lot going for him.

The economy is not in particularly good shape, even though he keeps telling us it has "bottomed-out." Housing starts are down drastically, unemployment is at about 10%, Inflation is on its way back up. Secondly, I don't think the American public is satisfied with our lack of a foreign policy. They still realize that foreign policy is the most important question—that's the thing that can blow them up.

Even if they don’t think or talk about it on a daily basis, it is kind of the unstated standard for a President. So, if the economy doesn't turn around, if unemployment stays as it is now, and if the people continue to lack confidence in our foreign policy, then I think most of the people who have announced could—not would—beat him. But that depends on two factors: (1) the President not being able to turn things around and (2) one of the candidates currently running actually getting his campaign off the ground. Now based on what has happened so far, I would not be surprised if Gerald Ford were re-elected. But much will depend on how well the Democratic party does its business, and I’m not particularly hopeful that they will show any degree of unanimity. The first several primaries will wash out a lot of candidates, and the sooner the better.

Because the sooner the press and the American people can concentrate on Just a few of the candidates, the more exposure they're going to get.

TV News. Many Delawareans are wondering about your endorsement of Milton Shapp.

Biden. I didn't formally endorse Shapp, though I know it came across that way. I said he was most qualified to be President. His economic policy is sound, which I feel is the most important issue this time around in terms of the election.

I would have no trouble getting out and campaigning for him. But I'm not sure I'm going to pick him to be the nominee.

TV News. Could you support Wallace?

Biden. No, I could not support George Wallace as the Democratic presidential or vice-presidential candidate under any circumstances. He’s the only one I could say that about for certain.

TV News. Do you think Ted Kennedy will run?

Biden. No. I don't think Ted Kennedy will run. I hope he does not run. But let's look at some of the other “unknowns,” like Jimmy Carter from Georgia. He's an extremely attractive candidate. Carter’s bright, articulate, and has some experience. Yet, because of the number of would-be candidates in the field right now. he is suffering from “publicity anemia.” He can't get the concentrated exposure in the press that he needs to be taken seriously as a candidate. What defines a "serious candidate"? It is someone the press takes seriously, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a case of “them that's got, gets.” And the press, because there are so many candidates, have to play percentages at this point. So they concentrate on the familiar names, frequently from the U.S. Senate. But what happens when the field gets narrowed down? Did anybody not know who George McGovern was after the last convention. One problem wasn't George’s recognition rate, that's for sure—maybe that was his problem. So, when the press starts to really concentrate on Just a couple of these guys, they could become serious contenders. Look at Milton Shapp—this guy came down here and settled a nationwide truckers’ strike while we all sat here with our thumbs in our ears. Talk about reorganization plans for the nationwide railroad system—the only guy who has come up with a comprehensive plan is Milton Shapp. Jimmy Carter pioneered the zero-budget concept in Georgia. If the American people could only hear what these guys have been doing, all of a sudden they would be taken seriously.

Let me cite one last example of the power of media exposure. Who would have said Congressman Gerald Ford might be considered even as an aide to a President. Think about it a minute. Would anybody have taken him seriously as a candidate? If someone had said—assuming Nixon had not resigned—“Well, my candidate in '76 is Gerald Ford,” they would have been laughed out of the room. I just thought I would point that out.

(From TV News—the People Paper, Sept. 20-
26, 1975)

An Interview: Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

(Interview by Joe Farley—Part II)

Delaware’s Junior senator is a man of strong opinions. In the first part of the in- depth Interview with THE PEOPLE PAPER, Senator Biden discussed problems with our foreign policy, nuclear power plants, county government, and talked about prospects for the '76 presidential race. In this issue, he turns his attention to political corruption, the busing controversy, state politics, and his own future.)

TV News. Senator Alexander Butterfield made a statement on “Sixty Minutes" recently that the American public would be appalled if they had any idea of the amount of corruption at the highest levels here in Washington. And recently a survey of public confidence and trust rated politicians at 1.8 out of a possible 10.0, with used-car salesmen receiving a 3.5. What about corruption at this level of government?

Biden. Well, first of all, I can understand why Alexander Butterfield would say what he did, in light of who he hung around with. I have not seen any of this corruption. Obviously, of course, that’s the answer you'd expect even if I had seen some. Theoretically and practically, I think the reason Americans have this image of politicians being “on the take” is because of the way we've financed our campaigns in this country, accepting contributions from lobbying and special-interest groups. In that sense, the American people are Justified in thinking they’ve been had. The problem is not "under the table" corruption—politicians taking money for their personal use, buying houses and yachts, that kind of thing. But I think the system is implicitly corrupt in the sense that very few, if any, people contribute for purely altruistic reasons. They give—legally—because they hope to have policies which favor them continued or implemented. That is why businesses, labor, charity-type groups contribute. That is even why "good-government” groups contribute.

They all have a legislative interest. And that is why I support public financing of elections, because I'd like to see that kind of impact lessened or eliminated. No one came to me and said, "Look, if I contribute, will you do thus and so?” But implicit in their giving was either that they agreed with a position I already held, or that they hoped I’d be sympathetic to a position they were interested in in the future. That’s why we were very careful not to accept more than 2 or 2%% of our total income from any one group or individual. At that amount, how much influence can they have over you? If they said, "If you don’t do this or that, we won’t support you next time,” you can say. "Take your 2% and go fly." In any case, the system is corrupt in so far as it forces you to prostitute your intellect: you say. "Well ... I guess I’d better support this.” Not because someone is going to give you money, but because they represent 500,000 people, or they represent Common Cause or some other group. If you aren't beholden to anyone as a source of campaign funds, it seems to me you can act as a more independent representative without the explicit or implicit restraints. The system has also been corrupted in another sense that is not often spoken to: frequently, the Congress has not exercised its responsibility, has not taken the initiative for governmental actions the way the president has. We've abdicated much of our responsibility to the president, with the result that he has become more powerful.

We’ve created a monster, and we don’t know how to bring it back under control. I've seen a lot of this kind of "passing-the- buck” corruption, a reluctance to stand up and say, "This is where I stand—regardless of what it may cost in votes, contributions, etc.” To a degree, though, the whole Watergate thing has been healthy in putting politicians on notice that the “paying-off” kind of corruption is Just not acceptable. I think you should err on the side of being overly scrupulous in terms of how you maintain the public confidence.

The bad side of Watergate has been a gross overreaction, an overestimation—in my opinion—of the corruption which exists in government. I think the vast majority of women and men involved in government are decent, honest people who are involved because they want to see things changed for the better. Yet, the general public sees a system ineffective in meeting their needs, coupled with the very real corruption revealed by Watergate, and now read any ineffectuality—not as a prostitution of the system generally—but as direct political corruption where somebody is "on the take.”

TV News. Senator, do you see room for two “Junior” senators from Delaware after the ’76 election?

Biden. Sure. I do. I'd like to make room.

TV News. Do you think Mayor (Tom) Maloney will run for the Senate?

Biden. I hope so. I think Tom Maloney is one of the strongest candidates we could have for any office in Delaware. He's bright, articulate, and he's got political guts. In the city of Wilmington, he took on the unions, the firemen; he’s taken on everybody. I remember when I ran, they said nobody can accept a young Irish Catholic. Well, I'm sure if Tom runs, they’ll say nobody will accept two young senators—both Democrats. But I think the people of Delaware are pretty sharp. Look at their voting record; they have no trouble crossing party lines. They gave Nixon the biggest majority ever, and at the same time elected Joe Biden. When Republicans were losing nationwide in 1974, they overwhelmingly elected Pete duPont.

TV News. So you would support Mayor Maloney if he runs?

Biden. Sure I would. I'd have no trouble supporting Tom Maloney at all.

TV News. Senator, as you know, busing is a very controversial issue in Delaware right now. What is your stand on busing? Why did you vote against the anti-busing Gurney Amendment that was defeated 47-40 in the Senate?

Biden. I oppose busing. It’s an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me. I took that position—along with Howard Brown, a black candidate for mayor—long before the '72 election; we were the only Democrats on record as opposed to busing. Many people forget that—conveniently—now for their own political reasons. The Gurney Amendment was a political move which would have allowed anyone affected by a civil rights decision from 1954 onward to re-open their court case. 90% of those cases had nothing to do with busing. It would have created havoc in our court system. Five hundred law professors signed petitions saying the amendment was unconstitutional. My political opponents cast this as "A vote against Gurney is a vote /or busing." In fact, everyone admitted there was no chance of it going into effect; it was one of those political "flag-waving" things to show the folks, nothing more. I’ve gotten to the point where I think our only recourse to eliminate busing may be a constitutional amendment. The unsavory part about this is when I come out against busing, as I have all along, I don't want to be mixed up with a George Wallace. I don't want anybody to give me credit for sharing any point of view George Wallace has. There are some people who oppose busing because they are racist, but the vast majority of the American people—the people of Delaware—oppose it for the same reason that the architect of the concept now opposes it.

Professor Coleman, an educator, first suggested the possible benefits of busing in a 1966 report. Now in 1975 Coleman says, "Guess what? I was wrong. Busing doesn’t accomplish its goal.” We should be concentrating on things other than busing to provide for the educational and cultural needs of the deprived segment of our population. But we’ve lost our bearings since the 1954 "Brown vs. School Board” desegregation case. To "desegregate” Is different than to "integrate." I got into trouble with Democratic liberals in 1972 when I refused to support a quota-system for the Democratic National Convention. I am philosophically opposed to quota-systems; they insure mediocrity. The new integration plans being offered are really Just quota-systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with; what it says is, “In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.” That's racist 1 Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child? The point is that if we look beyond the "old” left to the "New Left," almost all the new liberal leaders and civil rights leaders oppose busing.

TV News. If nobody wants it, where did it come from?

Biden. It has come from the courts primarily, from people who were—for the most part—appointed during the 60’s, at the height of the civil rights activist movements. The thrust at that time was to force integration, to eliminate racial identities in the hope that then we'd all live happily ever after. It was probably a necessary first-step then, and I would probably have shared that viewpoint, had I been around then. So what we have now is a court-administered system that is ten or twelve years behind what I believe is accurate, rational thinking. There are other things besides busing that we should be addressing to deal with these problems. For example, during my campaign I went on record in support of a single statewide school district tax, and I got clobbered for it.

Well, if we'd done that, we wouldn't have to be talking about busing now; it wouldn't even be an issue. We would have undercut the argument about equal distribution of educational benefits. I was the only member of County Council to push for public housing in the suburbs of New Castle County. Well, one of the bases of the current suit is that they have been able to identify discrimination in housing patterns in the county.

TV News. How can you. as a U.S. Senator, work to remedy the situation now? What are you currently doing?

Biden. I have made my views known to state legislators, saying that I don't think busing is a good idea. But frankly, I have tried not to become too vocal on the subject while the case is still being litigated. I’m a conservative where the constitution is concerned. and I believe It would be inappropriate for me—as a U.S. Senator—to try to put pressure on the courts.

We've got to wait until the Judicial remedy runs its course before moving in with a legislative remedy. We don't wait and do nothing, however. I think we can do three things: (1) Develop legislation saying that HEW cannot order busing—if it ever is ordered. It certainly shouldn’t be through an administrative agency. (2) Draw legislation which says simply that children may not be assigned beyond their own school district, unless it can be proven that the district lines were deliberately drawn to exclude certain areas. And (3) draw up new legislation which more strictly defines de Jure segregation, which is the basis on which the children are now being bused. Senator Roth and I are working on that legislation already.

The problem, you see, is that the courts have gone overboard in their interpretation of what is required to remedy unlawful segregation. It is one thing to say that you cannot keep a black man from using this bathroom, and something quite different to say that one out of every five people who use this bathroom must be black. It used to be that the pattern of use of a facility was one measure of segregation.

Discrimination can take subtle forms, and blatant racism is the exception rather than the rule.

For instance, a black man can be turned down for a job and the employer can offer many excuses other than the fact that the applicant was black. So the pattern of use test became one way to estimate real segregation. But it has now been turned into an affirmative program to insure integration, and that brings us right back to quota- systems. The ultimate result is a “planned society,” which I abhor. It is the obligation of government to knock down any barriers thrown up to prevent someone from being able to participate in any aspect of our society.

But I do not buy the concept, popular in the 60's which said: 'we have suppressed the black man for 300 years, and the white man Is now far ahead in the ‘race’ for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a 'head start’ or even hold the white man back to even the ‘race.” I don’t buy that. I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation Is today, for the sins of my own generation. And I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.

TV News. You are still a liberal, aren’t you, Senator?

Biden. I think I’m a true liberal. I think these other people are a little bit phony about being liberals. A true liberal says you allow as much flexibility in society as possible. A true liberal would say that it is wrong to penalize someone who has committed no wrong, based simply on the generalization of his race’s violation of the civil rights of another race. It is true that the white man has suppressed the black man, and continues to suppress the black man. It is harder to be black than to be white. But you have to open up avenues for blacks without closing avenues for whites; you don’t hold society back to let one segment catch up. You put more money into the black schools for remedial reading programs, you upgrade facilities, you upgrade opportunities, open up housing patterns. You give everybody a piece of the action.

TV News. You believe that is possible?

Biden. I believe it is absolutely necessary, and I wouldn't stay here if I didn't think it was possible. Because if it's not possible, quite frankly, I don't hold much hope for our generation. If we cannot do this, we are going to end up with the races at war. because your children and my children are not going to stand up for having their civil rights violated in order to give some other group an opportunity to exercise their civil rights. This is the real problem with busing—you take people who aren't racist, people who are good citizens, who believe in equal education and opportunity, and you stunt their children’s intellectual growth by busing them to an inferior school . . . and you're going to fill them with hatred. And what about the black student from Wilmington's east side? You send him to Alexis I. duPont, bus him through Centerville every day, then send him back to the ghetto. How can he be encouraged to love his white brothers? He doesn't need a look at “the other side," he needs the chance to get out of the ghetto permanently.

TV News. How do you feel Delawareans are assessing your performance?

Biden. That's hard to Judge. I’m trying to do the Job the way I committed to do it— by speaking out on what I think, whether people like it or not. to stand up for what I think is right, and to vote my conscience. And to be responsive. I’ve made literally several hundred speeches in Delaware in 2 1/2 years; I try to visit every high school at least once a year. There isn't a day goes by that I don't meet with some of my constituency. I still go out and knock on doors, asking people what they are thinking about things. Based on the reaction I get. It appears that they're generally satisfied. All I can do is continue to do what I think I should be doing and keep as much contact at home as possible.

One thing that worries me, quite frankly, is that down here there is a tendency to try to make me into a national figure—to make me a would-be presidential candidate for 1980, that kind of thing. I want to make sure the people of Delaware realize that my first priority la Delaware. I feel the important thing is for me not to change from the way I was before I was elected, except to make no pretense about being a U.S. Senator. When it comes to legislation, I won’t pretend to be a ‘good old boy' who doesn't know what he's talking about. I do my homework, I hope I'm "smarter than the average bear," and I hope that's why the people voted for me. If you hang around Washington, it’s easy to start thinking you’re important, and so it is a blessing in disguise that I commute every day and get out of this city. I do my work and get involved, but I steer clear of the social circuit. I prefer being home with my kids, and that way I’m home with my constituents too.

TV News. The Biden "charisma”—it is becoming well-known regionally, even nationally. Can you see yourself as a presidential candidate at some point in the future? Is Delaware big enough to produce a national political figure?

Biden. That’s very flattering, though I think a lot of the attention I've gotten is simply because I'm so young. I have no desire to run for those offices, but I’d be a damn liar if I said that I wouldn’t be interested in five, ten, or twenty years if the opportunity were offered. I think it is totally unrealistic that it should be offered. If it were, well, anyone who runs for public office has a desire to affect what happens, and there is no place you can have greater effect than as president. So you're being phony to say you're not interested in being president if you really want to change things. But I'm certainly not qualified at this point, I don't have the experience or background. I do want to become a national political figure in the sense that I want to become someone who can affect things in the U.S. Senate. If I return for a second term. I would not want to be "Just another senator”—I would want to be a “power" in the US Senate. Otherwise, why be here?

As for your second question. Delaware clearly could produce a presidential candidate. Look at where the candidates have come from recently—South Dakota, Maine, Arizona—all states with populations under a million people. Because of electronic media, in particular, the place you come from is significantly less important than it was in the past. And because of changes in party rules, "bosses” and “machines” have much less power than before; they don't control as much of what happens. The net effect has been to dissipate the impact of major states, in terms of being a springboard for a presidential candidate. Delaware could have a presidential candidate if there were a man or woman qualified to run and able to get that much attention.

TV News. Do you feel Pete DuPont can beat Governor Tribbitt?

Biden. Pete DuPont is the most formidable candidate the Republicans have, but I don't count Sherman Tribbitt out at all. He's a resourceful guy, a good campaigner, and he's done a pretty good job. I'd support him without reservations, but he’s going to have his hands full, and he knows it. Pete duPont—whether he ran against Tribbitt, me. or anybody—would be formidable in whatever office he sought.

TV News. Do you see yourself running for the Senate again in 1978?

Biden. Assuming my family situation is in the shape that it's continuing to be in, yes. I can see myself as a candidate. At least I'm going to conduct myself with that intention. But I’m not prepared to commit that I'll run again for this office.

 

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