Joe Biden is starting the second leg of his sold-out American tour at St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theater Monday, June 4, and tickets are going fast. Not Paul Simon, Taylor Swift, Beyonce or Justin Timberlake, mind you, but Joe Biden – the 75-year-old former Vice President of the United States.
Biden launched the “American Promise Tour” – a series of moderated speaking engagements, at stadium-seat prices – last November. Ostensibly, he was promoting his memoir Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose – described on joebidenbook.com as “a personal story from a father, grandfather, husband, and friend as he confronts the inevitability of devastating personal loss, while trying to balance his duty to his family and his country.”
The personal loss is, of course, a reference to Biden’s 46-year-old son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, seven years into his father’s eight-year term as second in command under President Barack Obama.
Biden has long been a vocal opponent of President Donald J. Trump, and the current state of American politics, as operated by the Republican party, often making reference to “the corrosive effects of the Trump presidency.”
Florida writer Karen Russell will serve as Biden’s onstage “moderator.” Russell is the author of the short story collections St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories, Sleep Donation: A Novella and the novel Swamplandia!, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012.
Two months ago, during a tour stop in Connecticut, the former VP was asked if running for the nation’s highest office in 2020 is something he’s considering.
“Honest to God, I don’t know,” he told the sold-out New Haven crowd. “I have to be able to stand in front of a mirror, and look in the mirror, and know that if I don’t run it’s not because I’m afraid of losing, it’s not because I don’t want to take on the responsibility, it’s because there’s somebody better to do it – and/or because emotionally I’m not positioned to be all in. And so the jury’s still out.”
At New York’s Democratic convention last week, where he threw his support behind incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, Biden took aim squarely at the GOP. “Republicans don’t have much faith in ordinary people,” he said. “They demonstrate by the way they act, they don’t care a whole lot about it. They don’t understand why we’re who we are.”
He also repeated his mantra: “All the values I just talked about are under siege by this administration. This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different deal. They are not – they are not who we are. They are not who America is. But what they are doing is they’re sending a vision of America that’s distorted, that’s damaging, that is hurting us. With its phony populism. And this fake nationalism.”
Biden’s last St. Pete appearance was on Nov. 7, 2016 at a hastily-arranged, last-minute campaign rally for presidential candidate Hilary Clinton at Albert Whitted Airport, not far from the Mahaffey Theater. Jimmy Buffett sang “Margaritaville,” and Biden stumped for the anti-Trump. Clinton applauded them both.
The next day was Election Day.
Ticket prices for Monday’s event range from $49.50 to $449. VIP meet-and-greets are available. Info is available here.