It was President Anthony Carmona’s first significant venture into foreign relations when he received US Vice-President Joe Biden and Dr Jill Biden yesterday. The meeting took place at the President’s office, on the grounds of President’s House.
In keeping with Carmona’s desire to bring the presidency to the people, he invited school children to witness first hand the visit of the dignitary.
Biden had some “inspirational words” for the lucky pupils. Biden said: “Mr President, I can tell the students that when I was their age I was not nearly as qualified or capable as they are.”
When Carmona laughed, Biden said: “I’m serious. There is nobody you can name in history who you think is important, who is any better off in terms of being capable, than any of you right now,” he told the students. “I mean that! Keep it in mind! And when you are President, remember me!” All the students giggled.
Carmona explained to Biden and his audience that he had started an initiative where he would invite young men and women between the ages of 14 and 17 to be present when he accepts credentials from ambassadors or when he is meeting very important persons.
“It is my way of trying to bring a sense of governance to young people in the country so that they can come to terms with the reality that ambition and hard work can get you anywhere. And there is visual testimony to that reality by actually been in the presence of persons like the Vice-President of the United States of America and the President of Trinidad and Tobago,” Carmona said.
It was an affable, relaxed Biden who chatted with President Carmona about his previous trip to Trinidad and to Tobago when he was just a senator for Delaware.
Biden was very accommodating to every request made of him. He said he would love to take shots with the President, his wife, Reema and two children, Aruna and Christian, as well as with the school children who were gathered there for his visit.
“Just tell me where he want me to stand,” he chirped. “You want us to sit? I would be happy to sit,” he said, when was asked to do so, in order to have the schoolchildren surround him for a picture. As the school children approached, he greeted them individually, saying “Hi! How are you? What’s your name?” “Kind of you to be here, thank you”, he said..
He asked Michael, an hearing-impaired boy, how old he was. “Some of you got to come back to Washington with me, help us straighten things out,” Biden joked.
Also present at the event were Biden’s two granddaughters, Maisy and Niaomi. Dr Biden chatted with Mrs Carmona briefly about the trip to Colombia.