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Meet the Candidates: Joe Biden

By: Daniel Wachman – Senior Political Correspondent

This article is one of two candidate profiles in the 2020 presidential election. To read the profile of Donald Trump, click here.

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of Delaware is the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Biden served as vice president for eight years under President Barack Obama and served as a United States Senator for Delaware for thirty-six years before that. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania to a middle-class family, Biden attended the University of Delaware and earned a law degree from Syracuse University. In 1972, Biden won a long-shot campaign for the United States Senate in Delaware and was elected to a seat he would hold for three and a half decades.

In the Senate, Biden was hailed for his bipartisanship and legislative skill. He forged friendships with legislators in both parties and spearheaded major legislative initiatives, including the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and the (now controversial) Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. As vice president, Biden led President Obama’s economic recovery initiatives and helped secure the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Biden was also one of the first major political figures to publicly support the legalization of gay marriage in 2012. As their second term in office neared its end in 2017, Obama awarded Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction for his service, in Obama’s words, as “the best vice president America’s ever had.”

In 1966, Biden married schoolteacher Neilia Hunter. They have three children: Beau, Hunter, and Naomi. Weeks after Biden was elected to the Senate, Neilia and Naomi were killed in a car crash, and Biden was sworn into the U.S. Senate next to the hospital beds of his injured sons. As a single father and freshman senator, Biden became known as “Amtrak Joe” as he rode the commuter rail from Delaware to D.C. and back every day to take care of his family. Five years after Neilia’s death, Biden married Jill Jacobs, also a schoolteacher, and the two have a daughter, Ashley. In 2015, tragedy again struck the Biden family when Beau Biden, just forty-six years old, died of brain cancer.

In April 2019, Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States with a promise to “restore the soul of the nation.” Biden, who entered the race as the frontrunner, beat twenty-eight other contenders for the Democratic nomination. He has campaigned as a moderate, focused on defeating the incumbent president, Donald Trump, and bridging partisan divides throughout America. Biden frequently criticizes President Trump, most often for his response to the COVID and racial justice crises, and has led the incumbent president in the national polling average since entering the race.

Biden’s signature policy proposal, his Build Back Better economic recovery plan, looks to simultaneously address the economic fallout of COVID-19, systemic racial and gender disparities, the climate crisis, and America’s increased reliance on foreign-produced goods. Biden has also campaigned on expanding Obamacare to include a “public option,” which would allow those who can’t afford healthcare to join a government plan. Biden’s other plans include gun violence prevention, repeal of President Trump’s tax policies, free public college, immigration reform, and protection of Roe v. Wade. In total, he has released forty-eight policy plans. If elected, Biden would be the oldest president ever inaugurated (breaking a record set by Donald Trump in 2017) and would be the second Catholic to sit in the Oval Office.

Biden’s running mate is Kamala D. Harris, U.S. Senator for California, former Attorney General of California, and Biden’s former rival in the Democratic primary. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, made history as the first woman of color on a major party ticket, and would again make history if elected to the vice presidency. 

Learn more about the Biden/Harris ticket at www.JoeBiden.com.

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