Biden talks bullies, grandchildren and compromise on Shetty podcast

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Monday described how he once bloodied the nose of a neighborhood bully when he was a wee lad, egged on by his Irish-American mother.


Biden, who gives few one-on-one interviews and holds few news conferences, taped an extensive interview with British podcaster Jay Shetty, whose “On Purpose” is the No. 1 mental health podcast in the United States, according to analytics firm Chartable.

Biden, who grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said he was once attacked by a neighborhood bully in the alley behind the house, and his mother, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan, advised him how to respond:

“My mother said, ‘Joey go back out there. Wait until he walks up to you, and as soon as he does, smack him right in the nose. I’ll give you 50 cents.'”

“I said, ‘Why Mom?'”

“She said, ‘You won’t be able to walk in that alley again if you don’t.'”

“I was scared to death. I walked down, popped him in the nose, it bled and he ran, and I thought, ‘Huh,'” said Biden.

Biden, who has emphasized compromise in his dealings with Republican opponents and foreign peers, told Shetty how he approaches negotiating.

“I try to understand what is motivating the other person when I’m doing things internationally or personally,” he said. “There’s a shot even with the bad guys that you can break through and get something done.”

Biden in the podcast also said, “I have seven grandchildren.” He publicly acknowledged his seventh grandchild for the first time on Friday in a statement to People Magazine. The 4-year-old girl is the child of Biden’s son, Hunter, who settled a years-long court battle over child support in June.

Biden explained to Shetty why he was acknowledging the seventh: “Being there is important and makes such a difference.”

Biden revealed that he watches little television but has a steady stream of movies for watching in the White House theater. One that is on the list but he hasn’t seen yet: “Oppenheimer,” about the development of the atom bombs dropped on Japan in World War Two.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)