You know him as Barack Obama’s VP, but how much do you really know about Joe Biden? Here’s 5 facts you should learn about the 2020 candidate that clinched the Democratic presidential nomination.
Joe Biden may be returning to the White House — as president, this time. The former vice president and senator from Delaware, 76, officially clinched the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, June 5 thanks to the seven recent primaries needed to win. On April 15, he become the presumptive Democratic nominee for president after his remaining competitor, Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the race on April 8.
“Folks, tonight we secured the 1,991 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. I’m going to spend every day fighting to earn your vote so that, together, we can win the battle for the soul of this nation,” Joe tweeted on June 5.
He announced on that he will be running against President Donald Trump in the 2020 race, arguing that Trump is ruining the fabric of the United States. We know Biden as the cheerful vice president to Barack Obama who stayed in office for nearly a decade. That’s just scratching the surface of his decades-long political career. Here’s what else you need to know about the presidential candidate:
1. He’s running for president because “the soul of America is at stake.” Biden’s announcement video focused on the 2017 clash between protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, during which Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides. “We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her endorsement of Joe Biden in April 2020. Clinton, who was the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, called Biden her “friend” and a candidate who has been “preparing for this moment his entire life” during a virtual town hall. “This is a moment where we need a leader, a president, like Joe Biden,” Clinton said, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic, which she accused Donald Trump of mishandling.
Biden gained Sanders’ official endorsement on April 13, with the Vermont senator saying, “We need you in the White House. I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe.” The next day, former President Barack Obama also endorsed the man who served as his VP for eight years. “Choosing Joe to be my vice president was one of the best decisions I ever made, and he became a close friend. And I believe Joe has all the qualities we need in a president right now,” Obama said on Twitter.
Obama’s endorsement was followed on April 15 by another significant ally: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Joe Biden has spent nearly his entire life in public service. He knows that a government run with integrity, competence, and heart will save lives and save livelihoods,” she said in a video address. “And we can’t afford to let Donald Trump continue to endanger the lives and livelihoods of every American.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also endorsed Biden on April 27, saying in a video message that, “now more than ever, we need a forward-looking, battle-tested leader who will fight For The People: a President with the values, experience and the strategic thinking to bring our nation together and build a better, fairer world for our children.”
2. He has nearly 50 years of government experience. Biden has spent his entire professional career in public office. He was elected to the Senate in 1972, then re-elected six more times until leaving in 2008 to become former President Barack Obama‘s vice president. During his time representing Delaware in the Senate, Biden served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Biden helped pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and the Violence Against Women Act, but his record isn’t squeaky clean. He supported the Iraq War and had a key role in the War on Drugs.
3. He experienced unimaginable loss with the death of his family. Just a few weeks after he was elected to Senate in 1972, Biden’s entire family was involved in a devastating car crash while Christmas shopping. His wife and one-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed. His two sons, Beau and Hunter, survived with injuries, but made full recoveries. That was sadly not the only loss Biden experienced. His son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015. Joe married Jill Biden, 69, in 1977 and the pair are parents to daughter Ashley Biden, 38.
4. This is the third time he has run for president. Biden ran for president in 1988 and in 2008, dropping out both times early in the race. Biden, of course, was asked to be Obama’s running mate on the 2008 Democratic ticket. Should Biden win his third and final presidential race, he would become the oldest president on record, at 78 years old.
It’s in some of our darkest moments of despair that we’ve made some of our greatest progress — and we have that chance once again. We’re not just going to rebuild this nation — we’re going to transform it.
There is nothing we can’t do if we do it together. pic.twitter.com/iozMdaLtAw
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 3, 2020
5. He has been accused of inappropriate behavior with women. Former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores accused Biden in March 2019 of acting inappropriately with her, namely sniffing her hair and kissing the back of her head while grabbing her shoulders. He apologized in a video on Twitter. Biden has also been criticized for how he handled the Anita Hill hearing in the 1990s, when he was the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hill accused now-SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas of sexual assault.
On May 1, Joe formally denied accusations by his former Senate staffer, Tara Reade, that he allegedly sexually assaulted her in 1993. Reade claims that the then-senator assaulted her in a Capitol Hill building when she was 29, and that her alleged complaints to Biden aides went unanswered. Biden told Morning Joe that the alleged assault “never, never happened,” and that he is not aware of any complaint. “From the very beginning, I said believing women means taking their claims seriously. When they step forward, look into it. Women have the right to be heard and their claims vetted… but in this case, the claims are false.”