The former vice president and the talk show co-host shared a powerful moment as the two discussed how cancer has affected both their families.
Biden’s son, Beau, died in 2015 of glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer that is difficult to treat. It’s the same type of cancer McCain’s father, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was diagnosed with earlier this year.
“I couldn’t get through your book,” an emotional McCain said to Biden, referring to his memoir about his son’s battle with cancer, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.
“I tried … I’m sorry.”
As she began to cry, she continued: “I think about Beau almost every day, and I was told — I’m sorry — that this doesn’t get easier, but you cultivate the tools to work with this and live with this. I know you and your family have been through a tragedy that I couldn’t conceive of.”
At this, Biden immediately started consoling McCain. He took a seat next to her and held her hand.
“Look, look, look … one of the things that gave Beau courage — my word — was John,” Biden said to a weeping McCain. “You may remember when you were a little kid, your dad took care of my Beau. Your dad … became friends with Beau. And Beau talked about your dad’s courage — not about illness — but about his courage.”
The 75-year-old then looked at the audience, still holding McCain’s hand, and offered some hope.
“And look, there’s a lot of things happening, any of you that have somebody who is diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is about as bad as it gets, there’s breakthroughs that are occurring now.”
Biden went on to discuss new medical developments taking place at the University of Pennsylvania, where he currently teaches. He then turned his attention back to McCain.
“There is hope, and if anybody can make it, your dad … her dad is one of my best friends,” Biden said.
Biden then joked about his history with the 81-year-old Republican leader, saying that John McCain has gone after him in the past “hammer and tong.” But Biden insisted that if he or McCain needed the other’s help, it would be given. He described their relationship as “two brothers who were somehow raised by different fathers because of our points of view.”
Biden concluded: “The thing that I found — and Beau insisted on, your dad is going to insist on — is you’ve got to maintain hope. You have to have hope.”