SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — President Joe Biden traveled to Pennsylvania on Thursday to privately pay his respects to the mother of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who died last week in Biden’s hometown of Scranton.
The president arrived before visiting hours for Ellen Casey, who also was a former first lady of Pennsylvania, at St. Peter’s Cathedral.
Casey, the widow of Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey and the mother of Casey, D-Pa., died last week at age 91.
Talking to reporters before and after the flight, Biden said Ellen Casey was an honorable and decent woman. He said that he had wanted to attend her funeral Friday but had previously been scheduled to be at a summit at Camp David.
“I just want to show my respect to the family,” Biden said after arriving at the airport outside of Scranton. He described the “enormous role” Ellen Casey had in his life, saying “her values were amazing.”
He added, “And every time I’d go to Scranton over the years, I’d stop and see her. She was a friend.”
The president’s motorcade drove through the blue collar town he grew up in, passing motorways and streets named after Biden. His house was only blocks away from the Casey household.
Biden, 80, is no stranger to grief or loss, having lost his wife and infant daughter in a 1972 car accident. He lost his eldest son, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015. And he talks often about how these experiences have shaped who he is, first as a U.S. senator, then as vice president and now president.
Ellen Casey lost her husband, who served as governor in the late 80s through the early 90s, to an infection in 2000. The former Democratic governor rose to national prominence for his strong opposition to abortion, which often put him at odds with the Democratic Party.