Former Vice President Joe Biden came to Omaha Thursday evening to speak at the inaugural Chuck Hagel forum in global leadership. He came to UNO to examine the role of U.S. leadership in a changing world, and that’s what the audience heard for 100 minutes in the Strauss Performing Arts Center
“When I looked over and saw ‘Omaha,’ I thought it was ‘Obama,’ ” he said. President Obama’s vice president came to UNO at the request of his longtime friend from the across the aisle, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel.
Surrounded by UNO students, the pair tackled questions on what America’s role should be for global leadership. Biden said this generation is up for the challenge. “I’m looking to you. I really am. I’m counting on you,” he said. “This is the USA. There’s nothing beyond your capacity.” Biden also said "It's time for us to stand up and remember who the hell we are. To regain the sense of unity, it's time for us to lead again."
Some of the students felt energized, and hopeful. “Overall impression is: I really liked how bipartisan and how they work past all those political lines we see right now,” UNO senior Ali Reil told 6 News.
Sophomore Jabin Moore says he had heard buzz the former vice president might make an announcement during the talk. “That was the talk — maybe he might announce something big,” Moore told 6 News. “He didn’t.”
This week, Biden said his family was comfortable with him running for president. But he never strayed to the topic of a possible 2020 run for the Oval Office. Renate Valquier Chavez, UNO’s student body president, said she appreciated the thoughtful discussion.
“We’re prepared to answer these types of questions, but we ask the questions. Because we don’t have the answers,” she told 6 News. “But you have to dig deep to ask things that make you feel uncomfortable.”
Hagel, who also served as Secretary of Defense, appreciated the inquisitiveness. "No other country in the world could you sit on a stage about what they did. This country can,” he said.
(Photo courtesy UNO)