Brayden Harrington, 13, has a lot to say about Joe Biden’s election victory – and he has the confidence to speak those thoughts aloud thanks to none other than the president-elect himself.
Harrington and Biden share a special connection, one that has grown in the months since it was forged less than a year ago on a cold Tuesday in February at a rope line outside an event in Concord, New Hampshire.
The meeting between the two, captured on video by Harrington’s father, Owen Harrington, went viral because of then-candidate Biden’s honest and open reaction to a young man who shared the same affliction as him: both Harrington and Biden have struggled with a stutter.
Seeing Biden’s election victory and subsequent speech on Saturday was all the more meaningful to Brayden in light of their connection.
“I see [Biden] as a role model,” the teen told CBS News on Monday. “He stutters and he made it this far in life, as a president and all that. And that's really, I would say, brave of him, to put himself out there in front of the whole country and be a leader. And it’s just really great of him to just push himself.”
The president-elect has long been open about his own struggle with a speech impediment, even penning articles about the taunting he endured during his formative years at the hands of peers when he struggled with certain words. When the two met in February, Biden gave Brayden advice on how to overcome his stutter, offering personal anecdotes that Biden himself still employs.
Their meeting would mark the beginning of a journey towards self-discovery for Harrington, one that eventually saw him deliver an address in support of Biden at the Democratic National Convention in August.
“[Biden] told me about a book of poems by Yeats he would read out loud to practice. He showed me how he marks his addresses to make them easier to say out loud. So I did the same thing today,” Brayden recounted via virtual address at the DNC, showing a marked-up copy of his own speech.
“We all want the world to feel better. We need the world to feel better,” Brayden continued. “I'm just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time Joe Biden made me more confident about something that's bothered me my whole life. Joe Biden cared.”
Harrington’s August address was hardly the only time he campaigned for the president-elect. The teen voiced a moving minute-long campaign video in support of Biden in late October that showcased their first meeting, under which Brayden’s voice could be heard saying: “He’ll never underestimate you...He’ll never underestimate an American.”
And in honor of World Stuttering Day on Oct. 22, Biden’s campaign released yet another video showcasing the connection between Harrington and the president-elect. The video showed Biden receiving a message from the teen ahead of his final debate with President Donald Trump, where Harrington offered Biden his own words of advice.
“I just want to let you know that the Harrington family is rooting for you and that we wish you good luck,” Brayden began. “When I first met you I was holding in all those fears and feelings about my stutter and it was really good to let that out to you, to somebody who I felt a connection with and to somebody who stutters.”
“With all that inspiration you have me I want to bring all that back to you,” Harrington continued, adding: “I just want to let you know that it's okay to have a block … if you do get a block, just do what you do normally and keep that faith in your heart.”
It seems that Harrington’s unique relationship with the president-elect has, in fact, changed his life for the better, with the teen telling ABC News he now sees his struggle “as a gift.”
"Before, my number one fear was my stutter, and that was close to the scariest thing in my life,” now-13-year-old Harrington told “Good Morning America” on Monday. “And now, I've seen that as a gift. I have seen that as a way to improve myself mentally and physically, and I feel like I've really grown from meeting [Biden]."
"I was really happy for him," Harrington told ABC News of Biden’s win. "I have a really strong feeling he's going to be a great president at this time."
As for Brayden’s future in politics? He still needs time to figure that out.
“I have days where I’m like, ‘Oh, I want to be president,’ and then I have days where I’m like …’I won’t make it a day [as president],” Harrington joked to CBS.