Valerie Biden Owens has been a constant in President Joe Biden's life. Not just as his sister, but as his longtime campaign manager and confidant.
This isn't because she has world-beating expertise in public policy or election strategy. It's because she knows her brother better than nearly anyone in the world.
“The advantage of being the sister and campaign manager is I had a Ph.D. in my brother,” Biden Owens told “Morning Joe” co-host and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski during an interview at The Biden Institute at the University of Delaware on Tuesday evening. “There were other people who were higher, who knew politics and polling ...But they didn’t know Delaware, and they didn’t know Joe and they didn’t know how we operate. We could complete each other’s sentences…”
She continued, “The advantage of my being campaign manager was not my brilliance – it was that Joe had complete trust in me. He got to do what only he could do, which is go out and meet voters, listen to them …He knew back at the ranch, at main headquarters everything was OK.”
Biden Owens, 76, recently released a memoir, “Growing Up Biden,” which details her decades-long career in politics and the pivotal role she played in her brother’s life as an advocate, adviser and best friend.
She recounted to Brzezinski that early in her career, she was the only female campaign manager she knew of and that “it was a man’s ballgame.” Still, she managed several of her brother’s campaigns, including his successful 1972 Senate run, unsuccessful presidential attempts in 1988 and 2008, and eventually his election to the White House in 2020.
The Biden's story, however, is also one that has been marked by tragedy, including a car accident that killed Joe Biden’s wife and infant daughter in 1972, just weeks after the he won a surprising upset victory over longtime U.S. Sen. Cale Boggs. Then, in 2015 Biden Owens’ nephew, Beau Biden, died at the age of 45 following a battle with brain cancer.
Brzezinski noted the Bidens have gone through some of the “worst moments a family can confront,” adding, “I would say [Biden Owens] is the glue that held everyone together, but the entire family is also the glue. Everyone jumped in and stayed in.”
“Every family has tragedy,” said Biden Owens, who moved in with her brother in 1972 to take care of his sons in Wilmington after the car crash, so he could work in Washington, D.C. “I moved in to raise Beau and Hunter. It’s what others in the family would have done with me.”
Biden Owens said she hopes what readers will take away from her book is the magic of family. “My brother is president, so it’s a little different … But the threads that make the fabric of family, the threads of commitment, loyalty, love, heartbreak, disappointment, and loss, they run through every family,” she said.