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Biden bids farewell to Senate

Sen. Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS US mulling cash payments to help curb migration MORE prepared to leave the Senate for the vice presidency Thursday, but only after delivering a 39-minute farewell address that befitted his legendary prolixity.

The Delaware Democrat gave a lengthy speech that referenced the first time he visited the Senate chamber as a 21-year-old tourist — and was nearly arrested by a U.S. Capitol Police office for sitting in the Senate president’s chair. When Biden returned years later, after his election, the same policeman recognized and remembered him.

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“He said, ‘Welcome to the floor legally,’ ” Biden recalled. “And I think it brings my career full cycle to know that while I was once detained for sitting in the presiding officer’s chair, I will now occasionally be detained in the presiding officer’s chair as vice president.”

Biden went on to mention his friendship with prominent Senate Republicans over the years, such as John Stennis (Miss.), Strom Thurmond (S.C.) and Jesse Helms (N.C.).

Biden also made sure to include his trademark phrase.

“I may be resigning from the Senate today, but I will always be ‘a Senate man,' ” he said. “Except for the title ‘father,’ there is no title, including vice president, that I am more proud to wear than that of United States senator.”

Biden’s resignation becomes official at 5 p.m. Thursday. He is being replaced by his longtime aide, Tim Kaufman, who was appointed by Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Memo: Biden seeks a secret weapon — GOP voters Tensions flare over Senate filibuster McConnell offers scathing 'scorched earth' filibuster warning MORE (D-Nev.) paid tribute to Biden’s sensitive side, reminding listeners that Biden lost a wife and child in a car accident shortly after his 1972 election, and later suffered a near-fatal aneurysm in 1988.

When Sen. Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonCornell to launch new bipartisan publication led by former Rep. Steve Israel Trump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan MORE (D-S.D.) was struck with a similar malady in 2006, Reid said it was Biden who visited Johnson and helped him cope.

“Joe Biden visited him and his family and talked to him about the fact that there will be times as he’s recovering that he may be embarrassed by his inability to speak very well,” Reid said. “Joe Biden, one of the great orators in the history of the country — no one would have ever known that he had a problem very similar to what happened to Tim Johnson. He was such a role model to build Tim’s ability to come back to the Senate.”