Del. AG Biden makes first public appearance

    Beau Biden was in Dover for a bill signing. It was his first public appearance after spending several weeks recovering from a stroke.

    It was a collection of news reporters and cameras rarely seen these days at a press conference in Delaware.

    But the unusually large press corps in Gov. Jack Markell’s Legislative Hall office Tuesday wasn’t there just for the scheduled bill signing ceremony. It was there for a particular person who happened to be participating: Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.

    It was Biden’s first public appearance since suffering a mild stroke last month.

    “It’s great to be back,” Biden told reporters afterward. “I’m very, very grateful for the thoughts and prayers of so many people across the state of Delaware who sent me cards, notes, e-mails, text messages — many of which I have not yet returned — expressing the fact that they were thinking about me and concerned about my health and offering prayers.”

    Biden, 41, suffered a mild stroke on May 11 and spent a week at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia before being sent home to continue recuperating.

    He spent a couple minutes Tuesday thanking everyone from the governor to his own staff, but mentioned very little of his immediate work-related plans.

    “I look forward to getting back to work with my Chief Deputy (Charlie Butler), thank him for all he did and my staff did in a very successful five or six week period running the ship.”

    Biden made no mention of the high-profile case of Dr. Earl Bradley, the former Lewes pediatrician accused of sexually abusing more than 100 young patients. But he did say he had a busy holiday weekend ahead, with scheduled appearances in Fourth-of-July parades from Hockessin to Laurel.

    “My kids, at 4 and 5, are still willing to come to parades with me,” he said. “And so I look forward to having them with me running up and down the streets of some of the prettiest towns in our state.”

    Biden was on hand to take part in the bill signing regarding legislation increasing penalties for carrying a concealed handgun without a permit.

    The measure increases the maximum jail sentence from two to eight years and adds the charge of carrying a concealed deadly weapon to Delaware’s list of violent felonies when that weapon is a firearm. Under Delaware’s sentencing guidelines, crimes classified as violent felonies are subject to higher sentences.

    “We must never cease to become vigilant when it comes to protecting our families from criminals who would use violence or the threat of violence with firearms to commit a crime,” he said.

    In addition to signing the bill into law, Markell used the occasion to welcome back Biden.

    “It’s great to have you back,” he said. “And it’s a great way for you to come back, too, with this bill signing,”

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