Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born on November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His family was Catholic of predominantly Irish descend. Biden's father had suffered several financial setbacks by the time his son was born but later became a successful used car salesman. Negative impressions of drinking alcohol in family and in the neighborhood led Biden to be a non-drinker.
While studying at Archmere Academy in Claymont, DE, Biden was a poor student but a natural leader among the students. He was elected class president during junior and senior years. Biden earned his bachelor's degree in 1965 from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. He received student draft deferments but classified as unavailable for service due to a history of asthma.
On August 27, 1966, while still a law student, Biden married Neilia Hunter. She was from an affluent background in Skaneateles, New York. In 1968-1969, Biden practiced law in Wilmington and registered as a Democrat. Corporate law did not appeal to him, criminal law did not pay well, so he supplemented his income by managing properties.
In 1969, Biden ran and won elections to represent the 4th district on the New Castle County Council with a liberal platform that included support for public housing. In 1972 he ran U.S. Senate election in Delaware with almost no money and no chance of winning when no other Democrat wanted to run against a Republican candidate. Biden won the election. His campaign focused on withdrawal from Vietnam, the environment, civil rights, mass transit, equitable taxation, health care, and political "Change".
Few weeks after the election, Biden's wife and one-year-old daughter Naomi were killed in an automobile accident while Christmas shopping in Hockessin, Delaware. Biden's sons Beau and Hunter survived the accident and were taken to the hospital in fair condition. Biden considered resigning to care for sons, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield persuaded him not to. At age 30 (the minimum age required to hold the office), Biden became the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history, and one of only 18 who took office before turning 31. Biden was re-elected to six more Senate terms, in 1978, 1984, 1990, 1996, 2002, and 2008, usually getting about 60% of the vote. With a net worth between $59,000 and $366,000, and almost no outside income or investment income, Biden was consistently ranked one of the least wealthy members of the Senate.
A single father for five years, he left standing orders that he be interrupted in the Senate at any time if his sons called. In remembrance of his wife and daughter, Biden does not work on December 18, the anniversary of the accident. In 1975, Biden met his second wife Jill Tracy Jacobs, who had grown up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and would become a teacher in Delaware. Biden credits her with renewing his interest in both politics and life. They have one daughter together.
Biden ran for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, was considered as a strong candidate, and could become the youngest president since John F. Kennedy. He raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of 1987, more than any other candidate but his political messaging was confused due to staff rivalries and plagiarism accusations fueled by the Dukakis campaign. In 1988, Biden suffered two brain aneurysms and had surgery with a high risk of long-term impact on brain functionality.
During his 2007 Presidential campaign, he failed to gain traction against the high-profile candidacies of Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. Shortly following withdrawal from the presidential race, Obama announced that Biden would be his running mate. On November 4, 2008, Obama was elected president and Biden was elected vice president.
He launched his 2020 Presidential campaign on April 25, 2019. He chose Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as his campaign headquarters. With the suspension of the campaign of Bernie Sanders on April 8, 2020, Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee.
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