It’s dark inside Joe Biden’s campaign bus, a lumbering blue diesel emblazoned with the slogan Battle for the Soul of the Nation. On this late January afternoon in Iowa, the former Vice President is in the cramped back cabin, nursing a paper cup of Panera Bread coffee so the motion of the road and the drone of the motor don’t lull him to sleep.
He is talking about loss. The things he has lost are never far from Biden’s mind. Chief among them: his son Beau, a rising star in Democratic politics who died of brain cancer in 2015, a few months after his 46th birthday. “I get up in the morning lots of times and ask myself if he’d be proud of me,” Biden says.
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This appears in the February 10, 2020 issue of TIME.