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Who is Joe Biden?

Posted on June 22 2020

Who is Joe Biden?

Joe Biden has formally captured the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. As that party’s candidate, he will be running against current president Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. This year, the presidential election will be held on Tuesday, November 3.

Biden has actually been the Democratic party’s de facto leading candidate since his primary challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign. The term de facto is a Latin term which means “from the fact.” If a person is in a de facto position, it means that he or she has already taken on a particular role, although that position has yet to be formally recognized.

In a statement on June 5, Biden said, “It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic Party has ever fielded, and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party.”

Joe Biden is already familiar to many Americans. From 2009 until 2017, Biden served as vice president of the United States under President Barack Obama. He has also sought the Democratic nomination for president in both 1988 and 2008. Before entering the executive branch of U.S. government, Biden represented the state of Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born on November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1953, he, along with his parents and three siblings, moved from Pennsylvania to Claymont, Delaware. Recently, when President Donald Trump accused Biden of abandoning his home state, he replied, “I was in third grade!” However, Biden continues to maintain his campaign’s headquarters in Pennsylvania—in Philadelphia.

Joe Biden graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in 1965 and a law degree from Syracuse University in 1968. While in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. The couple would go on to have three children together.

After graduating from law school, Biden returned to Delaware. He worked briefly as an attorney but soon turned to a career in politics. He served on the New Castle county council from 1970-1972. When he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, the 29-year-old Biden became the fifth youngest senator in U.S. history. (The youngest was Senator John Henry Eaton of Tennessee, who was 28 years, 4 months, and 29 days old when elected in 1818.)

Soon after being elected to the Senate, tragedy struck when Biden’s family was in an automobile accident. While his two sons survived the crash, both his wife and daughter were killed. Biden was sworn in to the U.S. Senate at the hospital at his sons’ bedsides. From then on, even though he worked in Washington, D.C., Biden commuted by train each day to the U.S. capital from his home in Delaware. Biden maintained this daily commute throughout his 36 years in the Senate. Biden remarried in 1977. He and his second wife, Jill Jacobs, an educator, would have one daughter together.

While serving in the Senate, Biden’s main areas of focus were criminal justice, drug policy, and foreign relations. He served on the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary and was its chair from 1987-1995. He was a member of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, and he was key in drafting the law that established the office that oversees national drug-control policy. He also served on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, acting as its chair twice, from 2001-2003 and again from 2007-2009.

Biden first pursued the presidency in 1988. However, his campaign unraveled in September 1987, when it was discovered that he had committed plagiarism: using someone else’s words or ideas but presenting them as your own. In Biden’s case, he had plagiarized text from British politician Neil Kinnock. Soon, people found other instances where Biden had used other people’s ideas without giving them credit. In addition, Biden acknowledged that he had been accused of plagiarism when he was a law student.

“I made some mistakes,” Biden said in a speech announcing the end of his campaign. “But now, the exaggerated shadow of those mistakes has begun to obscure the essence of my candidacy and the essence of Joe Biden.”

Biden tried again for the presidency as a Democratic candidate in 2008 but withdrew after a poor performance at the Iowa Democratic caucus. However, on August 23, 2008, Barack Obama announced that he had chosen Joe Biden as the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nominee. A few days later, on August 27, Obama and Biden secured the Democratic Party’s nomination. They defeated Republican candidate John McCain and his vice-presidential running mate Sarah Palin. Although Biden was also re-elected to his seat on the Senate, he resigned before he took the oath of office as vice president in 2009. Obama and Biden won re-election in 2012, defeating the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Today, many writers think that Joe Biden’s time as Barack Obama’s vice president may be his biggest strength as a presidential candidate. “Throughout the primary,” comments the New York Times, “some of Mr. Biden’s biggest applause at campaign events came as he praised Mr. Obama.” As the vice president of the first African American president, Biden has received strong support from African American voters. The recent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement could likely further strengthen that relationship.

If elected to office this fall, the 77-year-old Biden would be the oldest president in history at his inauguration, when he will be 78 years old. However, if Donald Trump wins re-election, at 73, he will instead be the oldest U.S. president in history.

Throughout his campaign, Joe Biden has positioned himself as a strong opponent of Donald Trump and his policies. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House,” Biden states, “he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

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