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At the end of the bitter campaign, Joe Biden worries about ‘my only surviving son’

Beyond the attacks, aides say the former vice president is worried about how his hyper-public stance has added to the formidable burden of being his remaining son. If Hunter rings the phone, Biden’s assistants say, it can send his father into a funk and inflict a lingering melancholy.

Mr. Biden will rarely bring up Hunter himself, they say, although others certainly will. When a reporter asks a skeptical question about Hunter, the mood in the room changes. Helpers are getting strained knowing that Mr Biden could run wild. “You’re a hell of a liar, man,” Biden said, discordantly, during a December election campaign in Iowa after a voter suggested he sent his son to Ukraine to “find a job and work for a gas company “in order to access the ruling class of this country.

“It’s almost a cliché now,” said Ted Kaufman, longtime chief of staff to Mr. Biden and short-term successor in the Senate after Mr. Biden became vice president in 2009. “Joe Biden had l He used to say that all the time, and he meant, “Delaware can always have another senator, but kids can’t have another father.” His rule was that if one of his children ever called, we were told to pick up Biden wherever he was. ”

In his most raw and vulnerable moments, friends say, Mr. Biden will be left wondering if he could not have been a parent. Despite his best efforts, Amtrak’s nocturnal trips from Washington to Wilmington, and the obvious mutual affection, they say he wished he could have done more to protect his children and prevent them from all harm.

As everyone knows, Mr. Biden’s first wife and first daughter were killed in a car crash weeks after he was first elected to the US Senate in 1972. Beau, then 3, and Hunter, 2, were in serious pain. injured but survived. Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, and Mr. Biden described his late son – an Iraq War veteran and former Delaware attorney general – as his hero, inspiration and role model. He spoke a lot about Beau’s example, military service and his own grief after the death of his oldest son.