Biden Institute launched at University of Delaware

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NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is hoping a new public policy institute bearing his name will foster civic engagement and promote a spirit of bipartisanship.

"There's a whole range of things that have no ideology attached to them," Biden told reporters Monday after formally launching the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, his alma mater.

"I think that the public is so sick and tired of the sort of political carnage going on," he added.

The institute is a new research and policy center focused on domestic issues including economic reform, environmental sustainability, criminal justice and civil rights. Biden will be the founding chair of the institute, which will be part of UD's School of Public Policy and Administration.

Biden stressed that the institute will be nonpartisan.

"It is not going to be a political organization trying to challenge Trump policy," he told a crowd of about 200 people.

But Biden later made clear that he himself will remain politically engaged and will not hesitate to speak out on issues of the day, such as President Donald Trump's attacks on the news media.

"It's bizarre, what's happening," he said, describing a free press as "the ultimate guarantor of our liberty."

"Any effort to delegitimize the press is the stuff of which oligarchs engage in," he added. "So I will speak out on things like that, but I will not do it from the podium or the platform of the University of Delaware."

At the same time, Biden said Trump deserves a chance to govern, and that he hopes the institute will help young people understand that politics can be a noble profession.

Biden, who said he will be committing one day a week to the institute, is leaning heavily on veteran political aides to help run it.

His sister and longtime campaign manager, Valerie Biden Owens, will serve as vice chair, while Mike Donilon, a former White House counselor to Biden, will be managing director.

Catherine McLaughlin, former director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard, will serve as executive director of the Biden Institute.

"We're very fortunate to have her," Biden said.

Biden said he hopes the institute will draw leaders from politics, business, and the news media, along with experts on specific issues for debates and discussions. He even envisions an annual conference of political and business leaders, similar to those held in Davos, Switzerland, and Aspen, Colorado.

"I hope it will become a source of significant pride and some excitement here at my alma mater," said Biden, who plans to appear at an April 7 rally to meet students.

Biden will be splitting his time between the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania, where he will head a foreign policy institute called the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. The foreign policy institute will be located in Washington, D.C., but Biden also will have an office on the Penn campus in Philadelphia.

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