Editor's Note: Today's profile is of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party presidential nominee. Check in tomorrow for a profile of Vice President Mike Pence, the Republican Party vice presidential nominee.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States. He has sought the presidency two times before, but this is his first time as a nominated candidate.
The 77-year-old has been in national politics for many years --- first as a senator and two terms as vice president. If he wins the election November 3, and takes office in January, he will be the oldest person to serve as U.S. president.
Biden has described his Republican Party opponent, President Donald Trump, as unfit to lead the country.
“It’s time for respected leadership on the world stage — and dignified leadership at home,” Biden said.
The coronavirus crisis has led Biden to campaign mainly from his home in Delaware. He has made a few visits to Wilmington, the state’s biggest city, and to nearby Pennsylvania, for speeches and policy discussions with small groups of people. But he has avoided large gatherings, following guidelines set by the country’s top health experts.
Early successes and personal life
Biden graduated from the University of Delaware and the Syracuse University College of Law. In 1972, at age 29, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, representing Delaware. Just weeks later, Biden faced tragedy. His wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident.
Biden was left a single father of two sons. He briefly considered leaving his Senate seat. But he decided to stay in office. Unlike most lawmakers, however, he did not move to Washington. He did not want to uproot his little boys. Instead, he traveled daily to and from Washington on the train, so he could be home with his sons every night. The senator continued this custom for 36 years, until he became vice president and moved to Washington.
Biden was a candidate for president in 1987 and 2007. After Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential candidate, he asked Biden to join the campaign as his running mate. They won election and Biden began serving as Vice President. Voters reelected the men in 2012.
While in the Senate, Biden was a longtime member of the Foreign Relations Committee and served two times as its chairman. He opposed the Persian Gulf War in 1991 but supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He also supported U.S. and NATO intervention in Bosnia Herzegovina in 1994. While serving as vice president, Biden helped shape U.S. policy toward Iraq, including the withdrawal of troops in 2011. He also supported the NATO-led military intervention in Libya that same year.
As a senator, Biden helped to write anti-crime bills, including a federal ban on assault weapons. The ban lasted 10 years, until 2004, but was not extended. He also supported strong punishment for crime, although his position on that issue has changed. He now argues that the U.S. imprisons too many people, especially black and brown people.
Biden has said that he considers the Violence Against Women Act “the single most important legislation” he helped guide through Congress as a senator. It was in effect from 1994 until 2018, when the law expired during an extended government closure.
Biden was closely involved with two historic Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominations. In the first, in 1987, Biden chaired the hearing of Judge Robert Bork, a conservative nominee for the high court. It lasted a record 12 days and led to a Senate rejection. Critics say the hearing marked the first modern political fight between Democrats and Republicans over Supreme Court nominees.
In 1991, Biden chaired the Supreme Court hearing of Clarence Thomas, another conservative. Anita Hill, a lawyer and co-worker of Thomas, accused the nominee of sexual harassment and appeared before the committee. Thomas denied the accusations. Biden as chair barred other witnesses from speaking in support of Hill. Women’s groups and liberal legal activists sharply criticized Biden’s actions. The Senate narrowly confirmed Thomas’s nomination and he serves on the Supreme Court to this day.
Biden’s campaign slogan is “Build Back Better.” If he wins in November, many people expect Biden’s policies as president to be similar to those of Obama's. He would support steps to strengthen the U.S. economy and deal with climate change. He would increase support for military alliances in Europe and Asia that President Trump has criticized. He would protect the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
On other major issues, Biden’s plans appear to still be taking shape.
Over the years, Biden has worked with Republican lawmakers to reach compromise agreements. He is proposing new uses of the federal government's power to support U.S. manufacturing and technology companies.
He accuses of Trump surrendering in the fight against the coronavirus. Biden says if he is elected president he will, in his words, “stop the political theater and willful misinformation that has heightened confusion and discrimination.”
I’m Caty Weaver.
Ken Bredemeier wrote this story for VOANews.com. George Grow adapted his story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
unfit – adj. not in good physical condition; not of the necessary condition or quality to meet a purpose
dignify – v. to make something seem worthy
graduate – v. to successfully complete a study program
running mate – n. a candidate for the lesser of two closely linked political office
assault – adj. involving or connected to a military attack or raid
harassment – n. aggressive pressure
confusion – n. lack of understanding; a breakdown of order
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