Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden told his son and other Delaware National Guard troops Friday that his heart was “full of love and pride” as they prepared to leave for an assignment in Iraq.
“We take comfort in the knowledge that you are the best-trained, best-prepared group of citizen soldiers that our country to this day has ever sent into harm's way,” Biden told the 261st Signal Brigade at a ceremony outside the state Capitol.
Biden's son Beau, Delaware's attorney general, is a captain and a lawyer in the 261st. The unit leaves Sunday for Fort Bliss, Texas, to train six weeks before going to Iraq.
The normally loquacious senator spoke briefly, telling his audience his son had advised: “Dad, keep it short. We're in formation.”
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“As you serve and look out for your brothers and sisters in arms, your families here at home promise you that we'll look out for one another,” Biden said.
Biden's GOP rival, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, gave a similar farewell in Alaska last month to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which includes her son Track, a 19-year-old private. She told the unit its yearlong assignment to northern Iraq would be a “defense of America, in America's cause. And it's a righteous cause.”
The two candidates debated Thursday night in St. Louis. On the subject of Iraq, Palin told Biden the timetable for troop withdrawal that he supported was “a white flag of surrender.”
She accused Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of voting against funding for U.S. troops in combat and chastised Biden, “especially with your son in the National Guard.”
Biden did not immediately reply to Palin's mention of his son, but said Obama had once voted against funding because it lacked a timetable for withdrawal. He noted McCain himself had voted against funding tied to a withdrawal timetable.
Friday's ceremony was similar to others Biden has attended, except for the heavy security and the unusually large crowd of roughly 1,000.
“I've come here many times before, as a Delawarean, as a United States senator. But today I come, as you prepare to deploy, as a father,” he said. “Stand strong, stand together, serve honorably and come home to your families that love you.”