Oprah Helped Democratic Nominee Joe Biden Surprise a 94-Year-Old Voter

Melissa Goldberg
·3 min read

From Oprah Magazine

One thing we know for sure: You can always count on Oprah to have a few surprises up her sleeve. On Monday, during her first-ever town hall for OWN's Own Your Vote campaign—a bipartisan initiative to encourage voter turnout and civic engagement among Black women—she was joined by Sen. Kamala Harris. And on Wednesday, she had another very special guest: Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The former vice president joined the call while Oprah was speaking with Mildred Madison, a 94-year-old voter. Madison went viral this week when her son drove her 600 miles from Illinois, where she has been living during the pandemic, to Michigan so she could vote during the state’s early voting period.

“You’re so inspiring…hearing your story gives me that extra boost of hope and energy and optimism for the country,” Biden told Madison, noting that she reminded him of his own mother. “I’ve said we’re in a battle for the soul of America. You are the soul of America. You’re everything we stand for.”

As it turns out, Madison—who, by the way, hasn't missed voting in an election in 72 years—was equally impressed with the former V.P. “Well, Joe, I am voting for you because I believe that you have had the experience and the heart,” she said. “And you have a wonderful vice president, Kamala Harris, because she graduated from Howard University, and I did too.”

That led Biden to recall when Barack Obama first asked him to join the 2008 ticket. “I told him I didn’t want to do it,” Biden said. “This is public knowledge now. I thought I could help him more as a U.S. senator.” Ultimately, though, the former president convinced him to go home and talk to his family, including his then-92-year-old mother, who turned out to be most effective in persuading him to accept.

“She said, ‘Joey, first man in history who’s able to be elected president as an African American. He says that he needs you to win Pennsylvania and a few other states and you told him ‘No’?” Biden recalled. “I said, ‘Oh Mom, what are you doing to me?’ I said yes I will, and so I picked up the phone and called Barack, because my Mom, like you, wasn’t about to take no for an answer.”

You can watch the full clip of the moving moment above. And to catch the final #ZoomWithOprah, head over to zoomwithoprah.com.

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