Joe Biden addresses Chuck Hagel leadership forum at UNO

 Chuck Hagel Forum program
Chuck Hagel Forum program (WOWT)
Published: Feb. 28, 2019 at 3:37 PM CST
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Former Vice President Joe Biden was in Omaha tonight speaking at the inaugural Chuck Hagel forum in global leadership.

“Who speaks for the United States of America? Think about this now — not a joke,” he said. “You’re a world leader, you are sitting down talking, do you believe they speak for the president? Not a joke.”

This week, former Biden said his family was comfortable with him running for president.

With Biden in Omaha today, some thought he may announce the decision, or at least elaborate.

But Biden — who is sometimes criticized for going off-topic — never strayed to the topic of a possible 2020 run for the Oval Office.

He was here to examine the role of U.S. leadership in a changing world, and that’s what the audience heard for 100 minutes in the Strauss Performing Arts Center at the University of Nebraska-Omaha on Thursday.

“When I looked over and saw ‘Omaha,’ I thought it was ‘Obama,’ ” he said.

President Obama’s vice president — a Democrat — came to UNO at the request of his longtime friend from the other aisle, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel — a Republican.

Surrounded by UNO students, the pair tackled questions on what America’s role should be for global leadership. Biden said this generation is up for the challenge.

“I’m looking to you. I really am. I’m counting on you,” he said. “This is the USA. There’s nothing beyond your capacity.”

With UNO’s mascot a Maverick, both men remarked how that was somewhat fitting for the way they dealt with politics.

The college students we talked with felt energized, and hopeful.

“Overall impression is: I really liked how bipartisan and how they work past all those political lines we see right now,” UNO senior Ali Reil said.

Jabin Moore, a sophomore at UNO said he had heard buzz the former vice president might make an announcement during the talk.

“That was the talk — maybe he might announce something big,” Moore said. “He didn’t.”

Renate Valquier Chavez, UNO’s student body president, said she appreciated the thoughtful discussion.

“We’re prepared to answer these types of questions, but we ask the questions. Because we don’t have the answers,” she said. “But you have to dig deep to ask things that make you feel uncomfortable.”

Hagel, who also served as Secretary of Defense, appreciated the inquisitiveness.

“No other country in the world could you sit on a stage about what they did. This country can,” he said.

This was the first Chuck Hagel Global Leadership Forum. The student body president said she can’t wait to see who the next guest speaker will be.

VP given a souvenir

During his visit, the 47th vice president was presented with his own UNO Maverick hockey jersey Thursday afternoon with, of course, the number 47 on the back.

Courtesty photo
Biden's speech at the forum, followed by Q&A