Joe Biden Opens Up About Past Family Tragedies With Son Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden and Joe Biden
Hunter Biden and Joe Biden Pari Dukovic/Popular Mechanics

Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden spoke candidly about their special bond and the family tragedy that drew them even closer together in Popular Mechanics' June 2016 issue.

The father-son pair have been each other's biggest supporters through the years. This became especially true when Joe's first wife, Neilia Hunter, and 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car crash in 1972. The accident occurred one week before Christmas and shortly after Joe was elected to the Senate. Hunter, then 2, was in the vehicle with his older brother, Beau, 3, but they survived.

Joe Biden arrives with his family, wife Jill, sons Hunter and Beau at the reviewing stand to watch the Inaugural Parade from in front of The White House January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC.
Joe Biden arrives with wife Jill andsons Hunter and Beau at the reviewing stand to watch the Inaugural Parade from in front of The White House on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

"After that, we had a rule, with Beau and I, which was that no matter what, as long as we were sincere about it and not trying to get out of something — but even sometimes if we were — if we wanted to go to work with Dad, we could go with him," Hunter, 46, told Popular Mechanics.

Joe would let his sons choose any day of the week to visit him. "I think — I hope — I was an attentive father when their mommy was alive," Joe, 73, said. (He later married Jill Biden in 1977. The couple are parents to daughter Ashley, 34.) "By the way, there's a distinction: There's Mom, that's Jill, and Mommy, that's Neilia. There's no step-anything in our family. I hope I was a good father, and I know their mommy, Neilia, was an incredible mother."

Senator-elect Joseph Biden and wife Nelia cut his 30th birthday cake at a party in Wilmington, November 20th. His son, Hunter waits for the first piece. Biden by becoming 30 fulfills the constitutional requirement of Senators being 30 years of age when they take office.
Senator-elect Joseph Biden and wife Nelia cut his 30th birthday cake at a party in Wilmington, November 20th. His son Hunter waits for the first piece. Biden, by turning 30, fulfills the constitutional requirement of Senators being 30 years of age when they take office. Getty Images

"What the boys have done for me from the accident on, it's always been, 'You OK, Dad Come here, Dad. Dad, you're not getting enough sleep,'" he added. "Every time I'd wanna just pack it in, all of a sudden I'd feel one of them climbing in bed — I mean, even when they were 15 years old. 'Hey, Dad, come on, you OK?'"

Hunter Biden and Joe Biden
Hunter Biden and Joe Biden Pari Dukovic/Popular Mechanics

Joe was just as much of a support system for Hunter. "The single best thing is, family comes first. Over everything. I can't think of anything that has been more pervasive and played a larger part in my life than that simple lesson … he didn't have to teach it by saying it," Hunter told the mag. "After we lost my mom and my sister in the accident that my brother and I were also in, he was ever-present."

The two men experienced another tough blow in May 2015, when Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46. President Barack Obama joined the Biden family as they remembered the Delaware Attorney General in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 6. POTUS tearfully embraced Joe and gave a eulogy at the funeral. Three months later, Joe told Stephen Colbert that the support of his loved ones helped him get through the dark time.

Hunter Biden and Joe Biden
Hunter Biden and Joe Biden Pari Dukovic/Popular Mechanics

"We have an expression in our family: If you have to ask for help, it's too late. We're there for each other," the VP told Popular Mechanics. "I have a rule for every single staff member who's ever worked for me in 42 years: If you ever come to work when your kid has an important function, no matter what you're doing for me — if you ever show up for me and you miss your wife's birthday or your husband's birthday or your kid's thing, don't work for me. And I mean it. That is the God's truth. I can swear on my word as a Biden."

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