A Young Reporter Meets A Young Joe Biden





I’ve known Jim Hohman since he showed up in the Fort Lauderdale News newsroom in 1978 where I was a very young reporter.

Hohman appeared to be a veteran journalist to this very young reporter. He landed at the News after bouncing from the acclaimed journalism school at the University of Missouri to Albany’s Knickerbocker News and then United Press International.

But years before he reached Fort Lauderdale when he was the editor of his college newspaper in upstate Auburn, New York, Hohman interviewed the newly-minted U. S. Senator from Delaware Joe Biden. Biden’s first wife was from Auburn and they were in town to visit with her parents. 

Hohman wrote that Biden’s philosophy and demeanor has changed very little from those days decades ago.


Hohman’s original article in the Auburn Community College’s The Collegian. 


Below is the article Hohman, now retired, wrote for Ormie King’s Legends of Auburn column in the Auburn Citizen earlier this month. I edited it for Browardbeat:




 “Hi, I’m Joe Biden.”

And that’s how the conversation between a kid U.S. senator-elect and an even younger community college newspaper editor got under way some 48 years ago.

Joseph R. Biden Jr., raised in the hardscrabble of Scranton, Pennsylvania, had just become the youngest-ever popularly elected member-to-be of the U.S. Senate. He was in Auburn to celebrate with friends and family less than a week after his stunning victory to represent the residents of Delaware in Washington.

Still ineligible at 29 to take his seat in the U.S. Capitol (he would have to wait a couple of weeks until turning 30, the Senate’s minimum age requirement), Biden was there for a victory brunch with his wife, Auburn native Neilia Hunter Biden, her parents, Bob and Louise Hunter, owners of legendary Hunter’s Dinerant, the Bidens’ three little ones and another 65 or so friends and supporters. Among the guests was my mother, Patricia Hohman, who used this unique opportunity to bolster my journalistic ambitions.

Knowing I was editor-in-chief of Auburn Community College’s student newspaper, The Collegian, and figuring maybe an interview with the young senator-in-waiting would make good copy, my mother took the direct approach and asked Biden if he would sit for an interview with her son, the college editor.

As my mother later told the tale, Biden didn’t hesitate a moment in agreeing to the request. So, my home phone rang, and I was summoned to the clubhouse on the lake for what turned out to be a lengthy conversation in a quiet corner resulting in a pretty fair read, as one of my editors used to say.


Biden’s Message Remains Constant


Nearly a half-century after that interview with the newly minted senator-elect, his message of accountability and transparency appears to have remained constant. 

He told me he thought the “youth vote” (read: Baby Boomers) was seeking more candor from their politicians. But he also emphasized personal responsibility. “I’m a strong believer in John F. Kennedy’s concept of ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’”

Barely a month after that victory celebration in Auburn, a soul-crushing tragedy hit Biden, the deaths of his wife and baby daughter in a horrific traffic accident in Wilmington. The couple’s two little boys, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured but survived the wreck. 

The grief in Auburn was palpable. The Hunters were much loved and for them to lose their daughter and granddaughter so terribly defied comprehension.

Before leaving the brunch, Biden had accepted an invitation from ACC President Albert Skinner to give the commencement address the following May. Honestly, after suffering such a horrible loss, Biden wasn’t really expected to make it back to the college that spring. At least that was a common belief on campus at the time. And who would blame him if he took a pass?

He’s a standup guy, however, and fulfilled his promises not only to serve the people of Delaware when in his grief he could have turned his back on public service, but to the young graduates of ACC, as well.



 U. S. Sen. elected Joe Biden  cuts his 30th birthday cake on November 20, 1972.  




Biden never left Auburn behind. At the ACC graduation ceremony in May 1973, he arranged with the college to introduce the Neilia Hunter Biden English Scholarships, awarded to two graduates pursuing four-year degrees in journalism and English literature. The twin scholarships have been awarded annually for decades. 

Biden returned again to Auburn in 1984 to make the commencement address at Cayuga Community College, formerly ACC.

Over the years, Biden and his sons, Beau, the former Delaware attorney general who died at 46 in 2015, and Hunter, a favorite Republican target in recent years, returned to Auburn periodically to visit grandparents Bob and Louise and other family members, even making a surprise appearance in 2014 at the wedding of a niece.

Should Biden become No. 46, it seems a sure bet we can count on another presidential visit to “History’s Hometown.”


Auburn native Jim Hohman was editor-in-chief of The Collegian and graduated from ACC in 1973. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri School of Journalism with assistance from the Neilia Hunter Biden Scholarship. Jim is retired and lives with wife, Marian Hale, in — wait for it — Delaware.

7 Responses to “A Young Reporter Meets A Young Joe Biden”

  1. I remember says:

    Thank you for the nice story on Biden.

  2. Trump All The Way says:

    You are bending over to make Joe look good. 40 years ago. What bullshit.

  3. Old Timet says:

    There is no question about him being a nice guy. The issue is his political philosophy of a leftward tilt toward Brrnie and AOC.

  4. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    As far as Joe Biden w/ himself and his running mate Senator Harris stating recently that BLM has had a positive impact on the nation will prove to be a disadvantage to Mr.Biden come election day….And with BLM protesters getting beyound unlawful which we all witness everyday this again witnessing this the Trump camp is running with this stand u r safer w/ Republicans than u r w/ Democrats.

    Will it work?.We will see come November.

  5. Floridan says:

    Thanks for passing on an interesting story we otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

  6. Things change says:

    The former Joe might have been a nice guy. The present Joe is representing a political party that appears to condone street violence. The part that concerns me about that is evidence that major cities in the US are looking like Third World cities with demolished buildings either from earthquakes (El Salvador, Haiti) or from intentional acts by human beings. The US cities will most likely be rebuilt if and when the madness stops. However, many businesses will not return and jobs will not either.

    It is already prudent to be careful where one travels in cities, even Fort Lauderdale, for many different reasons all related to personal safety. That is a loss of freedom. More freedom is lost when barricades are placed on city streets to keep people out of increasingly more dangerous places.

    It is heartbreaking that politicians, many of them of Joe’s party, do not consider the victims of the street violence. Police brutality kills some victims. The street violence kills people and the means to support ones family in huge swaths of real estate.

    Joe has had some sad personal experiences. He does not seem to understand what damage the street violence is doing to thousands of people emotionally, physically, and financially,
    If he did, he would have a conversation with some of his parties’ leaders who also remain silent or call for street unrest.

  7. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I never met Vice President Biden but until President Trump started attacking him the ONLY NEGATIVE CHARGE WAS DECADES AGO ABOUT THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER Neil Kinnock’s Speech being used…Donald’s LIFETIME of RACISM CHEATING VENDORS SCREWING INVESTORS in his real estate n casino…Joe Biden is a GENTLEMAN while Donald is a LYING CREEP.