Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. (born November 20, 1942) is the 47th and former Vice President of the United States. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is from Wilmington, Delaware. Before becoming Vice President, he was a U.S. Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009. He had served in the Senate longer than any other Vice President.

He tried to become the Democratic candidate for President three times, in 1988, 2008, and 2012, but did not win. He is a Roman Catholic. Biden has received several awards. He has five honorary doctorates, including one from his alma mater and one from where he has taught law. He has also earned the "Best of Congress Award" and an award from the Pakistani government.

Early life

Joe Biden was born on November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to a family of Irish Catholics. His father, Joe Biden Sr., was a businessman. When he was young, his family moved to Wilmington, Delaware. In high school, Biden played football and baseball, but he was not a very good student. Biden attended college at the University of Delaware and Syracuse University. He did not have to fight in the Vietnam War because he was going to college and had asthma as a child.

In the Senate

For many years, Biden was a U.S. Senator from Delaware. Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 when he was 29 years old. His election was somewhat of a surprise. The other candidate, J. Caleb Boggs, had more experience and more money to spend on his campaign. He is one of the youngest people to become a U.S. Senator, because he was only two months older than the minimum age, 30, required to be one.

Biden was re-elected to the Senate six times. Later in his time in the Senate, Biden served as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Foreign Relations committee deals with American issues in other countries. When Biden was chair, the committee dealt with the 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 War in Iraq, and several treaties. The Judiciary Committee dealt with the choice of Clarence Thomas, Robert Bork, and others for the Supreme Court. Biden thought that Thomas and Bork should not be on the Court. Though Senators work in Washington, DC, Biden took the train home to Delaware every night.

Running for President and Vice President

Biden ran for President three times, in 1988, 2008 and 2012. The first time he was viewed as a good choice early on, but quit after another candidate said he gave a speech that was copied from Neil Kinnock, a British politician.

Biden tried again to get the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2008 presidential election. He ran mostly on foreign issues, especially getting U.S. troops out of Iraq. Many thought of him as a good choice for Secretary of State. He stopped his campaign on January 3, 2008 after he did not get many votes in the Iowa caucus. However, he later became Barack Obama's pick for Vice President due to what he knew about Iraq and because the working class liked him.

When Biden was running for President, he criticized Obama, talking about his lack of experience, but later he supported Obama to become president. His opponent as Vice President was Sarah Palin, who had less experience but was seen as more interesting by the media. Before the election, there were debates between the different candidates running for president or vice president. In the debate between Biden and Palin, many people believed that he knew more about running America than Palin did. When Obama was elected President on November 4, 2008, Biden was elected Vice President.

As Vice President and 2012 presidential election

Biden became Vice President on January 20, 2009, and is the first person from Delaware and first Roman Catholic to be Vice President. When Biden became Vice President, he said he would do things differently from Dick Cheney, who had been Vice President before him. Biden has said that his vice-presidency will not be like any other.

Biden's main role was as an advisor to Obama, mostly on issues of foreign policy and the economy. Obama asked for Biden's input on most of his major decisions, such as who to put in his Cabinet and how to fight the War in Afghanistan. Obama put him in charge of groups to deal with the problems of the working class, as well as to watch the money in his stimulus bill. Biden also traveled to the Middle East several times on behalf of Obama and the U.S. while Vice President. In 2011, Biden lead talks on the budget and the debt.

In April 2011, Biden said that he was looking for a possible chance of running for President again in the 2012 U.S. election after Obama declined to seek a second term. Biden formed a PAC for his possible run. On June 21, speaking from a podium in the Rose Garden with his wife and President Obama by his side, Biden announced his decision to the enter the race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency for the 2012 election. Originally thought of as a front-runner alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both withdrew during the primaries as both had been members of the scandal-ridden Obama Administration and were therefore not well received by the voters.

After withdrawing from the election, Biden served the Vice Presidency until January 20, 2013.

Personal life

While in college, he married his first wife, Nelia Hunter. They had three children, two sons (Beau and Robert) and a daughter (Naomi). After college, he became a lawyer and served on a County Council, a group of people who run a county. In 1972, Nelia and Naomi were killed in a car accident, and Beau and Robert were hurt very badly. Both survived the accident. Beau was the Attorney General in Delaware until January 2015 and served as a soldier in Iraq. Beau died from brain cancer on May 30, 2015 in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 46.

Biden married his second wife, Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden, in 1977. She is a teacher and the former Second Lady of the United States. In 1981, they had a daughter, Ashley, who is now a social worker. In 1988, Biden suffered from bleeding in his brain and needed brain surgery twice. Because of what he saw in his family and neighborhood, Biden does not drink alcohol.

Awards and honors

Biden has gotten honorary degrees from the University of Scranton (1976), Saint Joseph's University (1981), Widener University School of Law (2000), Emerson College (2003), his alma mater the University of Delaware (2004), Suffolk University Law School (2005), and his other alma mater Syracuse University (2009).

Biden got the Chancellor Medal from his alma mater, Syracuse University, in 1980. In 2005, he got the George Arents Pioneer Medal—Syracuse's highest alumni award—"for excellence in public affairs."

In 2008, Biden got the Best of Congress Award, for "improving the American quality of life through family-friendly work policies," from Working Mother magazine. Also in 2008, Biden shared with fellow Senator Richard Lugar the Hilal-i-Pakistan award from the Government of Pakistan, "in recognition of their consistent support for Pakistan." In 2009, Biden got The Golden Medal of Freedom award from Kosovo, that region's highest award, for his vocal support for their independence in the late 1990s.

Biden is an inductee of the Delaware Volunteer Firemen's Association Hall of Fame.

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