When officials at the University of Utah invited Joe Biden to speak there in December, Biden’s representatives listed a number of requirements for the appearance. His booking firm, Creative Artists Agency, said the school would need to fly Biden and his aides to Salt Lake City by private plane. It would have to buy 1,000 copies of his recent memoir for distribution to the audience. There would be no insertion of the word “former” before “vice president” in social media promotions. And the speaking fee would be $100,000 — “a reduced rate,” it was explained, for colleges and universities. But three days before the event, Biden’s aides learned that the public university would be using state funds to pay his fee. They already had a policy against taking tuition dollars, and decided that accepting taxpayer dollars for such a windfall might appear just as politically distasteful. Biden made the trip anyway but declined to take a check. That costly last-minute reversal exposes the complicated balance Biden has attempted since leaving the vice presidency two years ago: between earning substantial wealth for the first time and maintaining viability as a potential 2020 presidential contender. He has done so while building a… Read full this story
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