Joseph Robinette Biden, born in Pennsylvania, spent the bulk of his adult life in public office.
At the age of 29, as one of the youngest ever elected to the house, he secured a seat representing the state of Delaware in the United States Senate.
Biden had previously worked as a lawyer and served on a county council in Delaware for two years, where his Irish-Catholic family had moved when he was a teenager.
The son of a car dealer, Biden’s career in the chamber gained him a reputation as a moderate, straight-talking, able to work to pass legislation with the opposing party.
However, Biden’s record in the chamber has come under increased scrutiny with a three-decade-long congressional career, and a Democratic Party that has pushed more left in recent years.
Critics also condemned his drafting of a 1994 crime bill accused of triggering minority mass incarceration and his eulogization of Senate colleague Strom Thurmond, a man who started his political career as a segregationist.
In the infamous grilling of Anita Hill during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas in 1991, he also faced criticism for his position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thomas had been accused by Hill of sexual assault.
Presidential Third Run
The 2020 bid by Biden for the presidency is his seventh. Campaigns both fizzled in 1988 and 2008. The first ended amid plagiarism charges. The second resulted in the choice of the older politician as his running mate by then-candidate Barack Obama.
From 2008 to 2016, Biden, now 77, served as vice president during Obama’s two terms.
From what had originally been a more strategic partnership, the pair formed a close relationship, with Biden credited for using his working-class heritage, folksy flourishes and experience to help shore up support from older white Americans in key northern swing states for the first Black president of the nation.
In April 2020, Obama endorsed Biden, saying that his former running mate embodied “the spirit of looking out for each other.”
The former vice president was known to endorse “Bidenism” on the campaign trail, frequently attributed to the family of pithy wisdom.
“My dad had a phrase,” he said at the launch of his bid for 2020. “He said,’ Joey, there’s a lot more to a career than a paycheque. It’s a matter of your integrity. It’s a matter of respect.
The off-the-cuff style, however, has also left Biden prone to gaffes, including proclaiming during a 2020 radio interview “You ain’t Black” if you support Trump.
“Biden has also shown a knack for giving his public image a personal touch, talking about his extreme stutter as a kid that won him the nickname” Dash.
He was also frank about the tragedies in the family that characterized his tenure in office.
Biden’s first wife, Neilia Hunter, and baby daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car accident while shopping for Christmas in 1972, just weeks after Biden won the Senate’s first election.
In the wreck, Biden’s sons Beau, 4, and Hunter, 2 were seriously wounded, and Biden was famously sworn into the Senate next to the hospital beds of his sons. He went on to marry Jill Biden later and have Ashley, another daughter.
In 2015, Beau, who had preceded him into politics and worked as the Attorney General of Delaware, died at age 46 from a brain tumor during Biden’s second term as vice president. After his death, Biden briefly swore off running for office.