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Profile of Vice President Joe Biden

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Profile of Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joseph Biden, Jr.

United States Senate:

Six-term Sen. Joseph Biden, Jr. of Delaware was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 when 29 years old, the youngest U.S. senator in modern history.

In January 2007, Biden declared his candidacy for the presidency, but dropped out of the race one year later. In August 2008, Barack Obama named Biden to be his vice presidential running mate.

Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 110th Congress (2007-08), is a gifted negotiator who has helped shape U.S. security and foreign relations policies for decades. He's a moderate Democrat who often bridges the bipartisan gap.

Recently Notable:

On January 7, 2007, Sen. Biden declared his candidacy for the presidential race, but dropped out one year later. In August 2008, Barack Obama named Biden as his vice presidential running mate. Biden was sworn in as U.S. Vice President on January 20, 2009.

Other notability when he vehemently objected to the nomination of neocon John Bolton to be U.N. ambassador. As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden led confirmation fights against Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork (not confirmed) and Clarence Thomas (confirmed).

Major Areas of Interest:

Senator Biden is one of the most respected Senate voices on foreign policy, civil liberties, crime and college aid/loan programs, and an avid supporter of AMTRAK.

Biden is a leader in fighting drug use and deterring drugs from entering the U.S. Biden has crafted many landmark federal crime laws, including the Violent Crime Control Act of 1994 and the Violence Against Women Act of 2000.

Senate Committees in the 110th Congress:

  • Committee on Foreign Relations, Chair
  • Committee on the Judiciary, Chair from 1987 to 1995
  • Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Victims' rights, ranking Democratic member
  • Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, co-chair
  • Senate NATO Observer group, co-chair
  • Senate National Security working group, co-chair
  • Congressional Firemens Caucus, co-chair
  • Congressional International Anti-Piracy caucus, co-chair
  • Congressional Air Force and National Guard caucuses

Prior Experience:

After earning a law degree in 1968, Biden worked as a fledgling attorney in Wilmington, Delaware for 4 years until his 1972 election to the Senate. From 1970-72, Biden was a member of the New Castle County, Delaware council. Senator Biden has been an adjunct professor of Constitutional law at Widener University School of Law since 1991.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - November 20, 1942 in Scranton, PA into a working-class, Irish-Catholic family
  • Education - BA in history, political science, University of Delaware; JD, Syracuse University Law School
  • Family - Married Jill Jacobs, a teacher, in 1977; 3 children: Joseph Jr. (b.1969), Robert (b.1970), Ashley (b. 1981); 5 grandchildren (See Joe Biden Marriage Profile)
  • Faith - Roman Catholic
He lives in his home state, and commutes daily to D.C. by AMTRAK. Young Joe Biden was a stutterer and was terrified to read aloud in class. He would memorize pages of books before class, to minimize stuttering in front of his peers.

First Marriage to Neilia Hunter:

Biden married college girlfriend Neilia Hunter in 1966. They had 3 children: Joseph "Beau" Jr., 1969, Robert Hunter, 1970 and Naomi, 1971. Biden was first elected on November 7, 1972.

On December 18, 1972 while shopping for a Christmas tree with the children, Neilia's car was hit by a truck. Neilia and Naomi died instantly. The boys were seriously injured. Devastated, Biden was persuaded to be sworn into the Senate, which he did at the bedsides of his two young sons.

A single parent until he remarried 5 years later, Biden commuted each day between Delaware and D.C., a practice he's continued for 36 years.

The Biden Persona:

Joe Biden is one of the most charismatic members of the Senate. He's described as gregarious, outspoken, colorful, informal and yet, distinguished. Reality is that he's a loyal Democrat with moderate ideological views who seeks bipartisan solutions.

The 1988 Presidential Race:

Senator Biden ran for the presidency in 1988, but aborted his effort when the rival Dukakis campaign found that Biden had delivered an Iowa speech in which part was taken from a British politician. Biden defended the speech, arguing that he had credited the Brit on an earlier occasion.

Memorable Quotes:

"About six months ago, the president said to me, 'Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead.' I said, 'Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one's following. Nobody.'"

--- Rolling Stone magazine, June 2004

"You Europeans use George Bush's excesses as an excuse for your own lack of commitment. You've been reluctant to do anything apart from criticize America---get over it." reported on a blog, on the subject of the 2004 Davos conference in Switzerland

Talking about the Bush 2006 budget proposal to shut Amtrak and force it into bankruptcy, Senator Biden said "This is absolutely bizarre that we continue to subsidize highways beyond the gasoline tax, airlines...and we don't want to subsidize a national rail system that has environmental impact....This is the ultimate in being penny-wise and a pound-foolish."

--- NBC News "Meet the Press" on February 27, 2005

"I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the President asked me what I would do about resignations. I said, 'Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not.' And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, 'Mr. Vice President, I wouldn't keep you if it weren't constitutionally required.'

"I turned back to the President and said, 'Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they've been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they've given you. That's why I'd get rid of them, Mr. President---not just Abu Ghraib.' They said nothing. Just sat there like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me."

--- Rolling Stone interview, June 2004

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