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Biden Son Returns After Iraq Deployment

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, considered a likely candidate to run for his father's old Senate seat in 2010, returned after a nearly year-long deployment in Iraq this weekend. He and other members of the Delaware National Guard's 261st Tactical Signal Brigade are currently participating in demobilization at Fort Dix in New Jersey, with a return ceremony set for this Wednesday at the state capital in Dover.

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the event this week, marking the first time a sitting vice president has done so in the state. But it's hardly new for Biden, who served as Delaware's senator for 36-plus years.

"When Biden was a senator, he never missed one of these," said Lt. Col. Len Grattieri, public information officer for the Delaware National Guard. Even in the midst of the campaign last fall, Biden flew to Delaware directly after the vice presidential debate to attend his son's deployment event.

"It's given a national awareness of the unit," Grattieri said. "He's a soldier like any of the other 109 in the 261st. But on the other hand he is the Vice President's son, he's the attorney general. So it's a special circumstance, and I think he did a great job of balancing the two."

All three members of the Delaware Congressional delegation typically attend the event. Rep. Mike Castle (R), who is considering the Senate race as well, was invited, but his office says he may not be able to attend because of schedule votes in the House this week. When Biden deployed last fall, Castle's chief of staff represented him there.

Certainly, there's extra attention on Wednesday's event not just because of the vice president's attendance, but also the political intrigue.

With the younger Biden back on home soil, speculation is sure to ratchet up further about his political plans for 2010. His term as attorney general is also due up next year, so he will have to choose whether to run for re-election or follow in his father's footsteps. When then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) appointed former Biden aide Ted Kaufman to fill the seat last winter, it was widely seen as a signal that the Bidens were at least preserving the option of a Senate run.

For now, the 41-year-old is focused on spending time with family, and eventually returning to the attorney general's office. Biden spokesperson Jason Miller said his exact return date is yet to be determined. Grattieri said he will be released from active duty within the next 30 days. Beyond that, he still will have to report for Guard duty one weekend a month, and have a longer training period at some point next year.