Biden addresses Wake Forest graduates

Charlotte ObserverMay 18, 2009 

WINSTON-SALEM – Vice President Joe Biden today told Wake Forest graduates that history is theirs to change.

“As corny as it sounds, this really is your moment, he said. “History is yours to bend.” Biden spoke on a brisk, sunny morning to 1,500 graduates and a crowd estimated at more than 10,000. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Unlike President Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame Sunday, Biden attracted no protesters. In his 30-minute speech, he urged the graduates to help bring fundamental changes in the world.

“You graduates give hope that we will not only survive today but thrive tomorrow,” said Biden, wearing a black robe. “We’re either going to fundamentally revive our economy or we’re going to fall behind.” It was Biden’s third visit to North Carolina in recent weeks, a fact not lost on Republicans.

“It’s absolutely political,” said GOP consultant Doug Heye, a N.C. native. “This is part of a political strategy that targets the state. It’s very smart, but it’s definitely political.” In a column for Politico last week, Heye wrote that Biden’s visits, like those of the president and First Lady, suggest Democrats are trying to capitalize on President Obama’s victory in the state last November. A poll last week by Raleigh’s Public Policy Polling found that 51 percent of North Carolinians approve Obama’s job performance while 41 percent disapprove. Biden called the occasion bittersweet. The late Tim Russert was originally scheduled to address the graduates. Journalist Al Hunt, a Wake Forest graduate, announced an honorary doctorate for Russert that was presented to his widow, writer Maureen Orth. “He carried his fame lightly and carried his responsibility as a journalist seriously,” Hunt said.

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