“He’s had just so much loss in his life, yet this man goes on and just brings, I don’t know, just brings such a good feeling to people, again, such empathy,” said Ms. French, 45. “And we need a lot of that in the world today.”
Certainly, Mr. Biden is not the only candidate to face personal loss, nor the only one embraced by voters as empathetic.
Earlier this year, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s father died just as the Indiana Democrat was starting his presidential campaign. Senator Kamala Harris of California speaks frequently about her late mother; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is open about the struggles her family faced after her father’s heart attack. Representative Eric Swalwell of California, another presidential candidate, sent flowers for the services of Ms. Jochum’s daughter. (Ms. Jochum, a veteran Iowa Democrat, has not endorsed a candidate but called Mr. Biden “the top of my list right now.”)
Madeline Israel, Mr. Israel’s mother, heard from Mr. Biden by phone when her husband was ill, and again following his death.
“These were not typical sympathy calls, these were a human being to a human being,” Ms. Israel, 84, said. “Of course I’ve never forgotten them. It just meant the world.”
When asked whether she is supporting Mr. Biden for president, Ms. Israel replied, “Oh, of course,” before adding, “As of this moment.”
“The main factor for me is somebody who can unite this country and the world,” she said. “Somebody that has enough experience and background. I mean, what he is as a human being may be part of it, but there’s too much at stake for me to put my own personal little feelings into my decision.”