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At commencement, Biden reminisces about 2008 election


MIAMI, Fla. -- It took becoming vice president to get Joe Biden to home plate.

Speaking at a high school commencement ceremony in the newly opened Marlins Park in Miami, Vice President Joe Biden joked that the 2012 election had finally offered a consolation prize for missing out on his childhood dreams of smashing home runs out of the park.

"As a kid, this was my dream, standing at home plate at a major league ballpark," he said from the podium in front of the pitcher's mound. "Not as a speaker, but as a batter. But I had to settle for becoming vice president."

Focusing on the lessons of tolerance and social change, Biden reflected on the historic election of the first black president in his remarks to Cypress Bay High School's class of 2012.

Standing on the Amtrak platform in 2009 awaiting the train that would carry him and the newly elected president to Washington for their inauguration, he said remembered how the streets nearby had been rocked by riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

But on that day in 2009, he said, "I was being picked up by a friend, an African American friend, Barack Obama," he said, prompting applause and a smattering of boos from the audience of graduates and their guests. "Regardless of your politics, this is not a political comment, it's about transition in America."

"We were taking that important ride to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States of America," the vice president continued. "Not only can, but do we live together, we now govern together that much change in 40 years. Just think of what's going to change in the next 40 years of your life."

Biden also praised the students for the tolerance of their school community, calling graduates "the indispensable generation" for the coming era of America history.

"You will be at the forefront as we leave two wars behind us," he said. "You will be at the forefront of shaping if the age in front of us is an age of increasing conflict or increasing tolerance. You will be determining not only the future of this country but what its heart and soul is."

Biden spoke to the graduates of the high school, which boasts exemplary graduation rates, college admission rates, and advanced placement test passage rates, at the request of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a local congresswoman and Democratic National Committee chair.

Wasserman Schultz said that it took years of "gentle but relentless cajoling" to get Biden to give the commencement address at the high school where her own children plan to attend in future years.

The commencement speech was the second of the spring season's graduation ceremonies attended by Biden. He gave remarks at West Point's graduation last month.