Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old boy, gave Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden his wholehearted endorsement Thursday evening as he addressed the nation at the virtual Democratic National Convention.
Brayden and Biden, it turns out, are both stutterers, and Biden met with the teen to talk about that condition earlier this year in New Hampshire.
“It was really amazing to hear someone like me became vice president,” Brayden said, referring to Biden’s post in President Barack Obama’s administration.
Biden’s stutter was spotlighted in the menagerie of recorded videos and live speeches and performances that made up the final night of the convention. A short video recounted how he struggled with the condition as a child in school ― and was once mocked by a teacher.
Sitting in front of a Biden for President sign, Brayden read off of cards he said he marked up in the special way that the newly minted presidential nominee showed him, in order to make it easier to read aloud. (Back in February, Biden explained that he breaks up the lines on the page with slash marks.)
“He told me about a book of poems by Yeats he would read out loud to practice,” Brayden added.
He continued: “And now I’m here talking to you today about the future. About our future. My family often says the world feels better by talking about something normal, like going to the movies. We all want the world to feel better. We need the world to feel better.”
“I’m just a regular kid,” he said, albeit a kid who spoke at the biggest Democratic political event of the year, “and in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life. Joe Biden cared. Imagine what he could do for all of us.”
Biden has spoken in the past about his stutter, saying that he never received professional help for it but instead practiced in the mirror and received encouragement from his mother.
He said that his mom would tell him: “Joey, don’t let this define you. Joey, remember who you are. Joey, you can do it.”
Biden appeared to stutter for a brief moment at a Democratic presidential debate late last year, getting caught on a pronoun. And for that, he was ruthlessly mocked by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Weeks later, Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump ― wife of the president’s son Eric ― made a similarly disparaging comment.
“I feel kind of sad for Biden,” she said at an event in Iowa. “I’m supposed to want him to fail at every turn, but every time they turn to him I’m like, ‘Joe, can you get it out? Let’s get the words out, Joe.’”
She insisted she wasn’t mocking Biden.
But it was a phrase Trump himself parroted days later, at a rally in Las Vegas where he said: “Biden is angry, everything is anger, sheesh. And that’s what happens when you can’t get the words out ... You get angry because you can’t get the words out.”