Vice President Joe Biden Remarks on Sen. Ted Kennedy's Death at Energy Forum

CQ Transcriptions
Wednesday, August 26, 2009; 10:59 AM

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

Mr. Secretary, thank you and your staff for the privilege of being with you today on what, as I prepared last night, was to be a joyous occasion announcing another step in the direction of energy independence. And you said the president made a wise choice. The wisest choice the president made was asking you to be the -- I mean this sincerely -- to be the secretary of the Department of Energy.

You've assembled a first-rate staff, and you've taken on a role that is going to be -- is going to, in large part, determine the success of these next three and a half years whether or not we make a genuine dent, genuine progress, in moving toward an energy policy that can help America lead the world in the 21st century as it did in the 20th century.

Some suggest we're trying to do too much, but my response is: Is there any possibility of America leading the world in the 21st century without a radically altered energy policy? It is not possible.

And that charge has been given to one of the most remarkable men to serve in a president's cabinet, a Nobel laureate who is as articulate as he is, obviously, bright, and a man who has assembled a staff that can corral the bureaucracy. And we all deal with bureaucracies -- we're all part of it in a way that I haven't seen in a while.

So -- and I had planned on speaking to the Clean Cities Program as one of the several initiatives we have to begin to reshape our energy policy, but as if Teddy were here, as we would say in the Senate, if you excuse a point of personal privilege, I, quite frankly, think it's -- would be inappropriate for me to dwell too much on the initiative that we're announcing today and not speak to my friend.

My wife, Jill, and my sons, Beau and Hunter, and my daughter, Ashley -- and I don't say that lightly because they all knew Teddy. He did something personal and special for each one of them in their lives -- truly, truly are distressed by his passing.

And our hearts go out to Teddy Jr. and Patrick and Kara and Vicki, with whom I spoke this morning, and the whole Kennedy family. You know, Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America. And for 36 years, I had the privilege of going to work every day and literally -- not figuratively -- sitting next to him and being a witness to history every single day the Senate was in session.

BIDEN: I sat with him on the Senate floor in the same aisle. I sat with him on the Judiciary Committee physically next to him. And I sat with him in the caucuses. And it was in that process -- every day I was with him -- and this is going to sound strange, but he restored my sense of idealism and my faith in possibilities of what this country could do.

He and I were talking after his diagnosis, and I said, "You know, I think you're the only other person I've met who, like me, is more optimistic, more enthusiastic, more idealistic, sees greater possibilities after 36 years than when we were elected."

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