WASHINGTON, D.C. – An array of non-profits, corporate CEO’s, diplomats, military, and faith leaders honored Vice President Joe Biden today for his contributions to international diplomacy.
McCain and the vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, took the stage at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition dinner to hand off the award. The younger Biden is chairman of the United Nations World Food Program’s U.S. chapter while McCain served with the vice president on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“He’s always been a fighter for the progress of American values in the world, a leader in so many good causes, from combating violence against women to helping to save millions of lives threatened by HIV/AIDS,” McCain said of the former senator from Delaware.
“It is no exaggeration to say Vice President Biden has played a pivotal role for decades in shaping U.S. foreign policy and funding it,” McCain said.
McCain faced off against the Obama-Biden ticket during the 2008 presidential election, and McCain conceded they’ve had their difference of opinion, but he noted they always agreed on diplomacy’s need abroad. The senator also chastised members of his own party who held to an “isolationist” stance.
Biden, in turn, reflected on four decades of his relationship with McCain.
“John and I have been close personal friends since, quite frankly, six months after he was released from a prisoner of war camp and he ended up coming up as a Navy liaison to the United States Senate,” Biden said, adding the two had traveled “hundreds of thousands of miles together.”
McCain was a prisoner of war for five and a half years after being shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War.
The remainder of Biden’s roughly hour-long remarks ran the gamut of diplomatic issues, from the Obama administration’s increased focus on Asia to the recent clashes in Ukraine between its government and demonstrators seeking western-style reform.
“I think that we’re at an inflection point in world history,” he said, then invoke the poet W.B. Yates’ writings after the 1916 Irish uprising.
“All’s changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born,” Biden recalled, adding, “I’ve been hanging around a long time in this business, but just in the last 15 years all’s changed.”
Thanking the leaders in the audience for their work abroad, Biden pledged the White House would continue to support international aid efforts. Citing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, worldwide efforts against terrorism, and a resurgent China and Russia, he likened the current climate to the reconstruction of Europe and Japan after World War II.
Reps. Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., were also recognized at the event.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition is a conglomeration of organizations and individuals who advocate for an increase in the U.S. foreign aid budget and international assistance.
Its membership includes a wide variety of organizations, reflected in the organization’s co-chairs, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn A. Hewson and H. Melvin Ming, president of Sesame Workshop.
Vice President Joe Biden has a reputation his sometimes off-script humor, but last night it was a furry blue Muppet who was the comic relief.
When Grover, in a skit before the ceremony, spotted Biden with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the audience, he couldn’t help making a comment on the current state partisan politics.
“Sitting together?” Grover said. “Awkward.”
Ming was the one who brought one of Sesame Street’s famous residents with him to the dinner.