VOA Learning English presents America's Presidents.
Today we are talking about Joe Biden. He took office in 2021, becoming America’s 46th President. A member of the Democratic Party, Biden had been in national politics for a long time before he got to the White House.
He served 36 years in the United States Senate representing Delaware. After that, he held two terms as the nation’s vice president, serving under President Barack Obama.
Because Biden's presidency is so recent, this report will not discuss his time in office. Instead, it will discuss his earlier life.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was born in 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Delaware when he was 10 years old.
The Bidens were Roman Catholics of Irish ancestry. Joe was educated in private Roman Catholic schools as a youth. Later, he attended the University of Delaware. He received a degree in political science and history in 1965.
He also fell in love at Delaware with fellow student Neilia Hunter. The two married the following year. Over the next few years, the couple had three children. Joe Biden also received his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law in New York.
In 1972, at age 29, Joe Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate, representing Delaware. A few weeks later, Biden faced tragedy. Neilia and their children were in a car accident. She and daughter Naomi were killed in the crash. Sons Beau and Hunter were injured.
Biden was suddenly a single father. 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, D.C. on the train so he could be home with his sons every night. The senator continued this custom for 36 years.
Also during that time, Biden met Jill Jacobs, an English teacher. They fell in love and married in 1977. Daughter Ashley was born in 1981.
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. Four years later, Obama and Biden were re-elected for a second term.
Most political experts say Biden was an especially powerful vice president. He and Obama worked closely together and Biden was influential in policy decisions. The president sought Biden’s help in establishing a national economic stimulus program, for example. Biden also traveled the world as vice president and led diplomatic missions in troubled regions. He is widely considered one of the most successful vice presidents in American history.
During his second term as vice president, Joe Biden faced another family tragedy. His adult son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.
Joe Biden had considered running for president in 2016. But after Beau died, the Vice President decided against it. The death of his son was too recent and the grief was too great to spend time on a campaign.
Biden announced his candidacy for president in April of 2019. At 77, he was among the oldest presidential candidates ever. His age became an issue of debate during the campaign. But his main competitor, President Donald Trump, was just three years younger.
Joe Biden called the presidential race “a battle for the soul of America.” He won that battle when Americans went to voting stations on November 3, 2020.
U.S. election officials announced later that week that Joe Biden and his vice presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, had defeated President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Biden received 81 million votes in all --- more than any other American presidential candidate in history. Trump won about 74 million. However, Trump rejected the official vote count as incorrect and dishonest, calling the election “stolen.” Many of Trump’s supporters took the same position, causing severe division in the country.
On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States. In a speech that followed, he called on the American people to seek unity with one another. He described unity as one of the most “elusive” qualities in a democracy.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Caty Weaver wrote this story for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
stimulus - n. something that incites or stirs to action
mission - n. a task, job or goal
region - n. a broad geographic area
elusive - adj. hard to find or capture
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