Former Vice President Joe Biden plans to join the crowded 2020 Democratic field, declaring his candidacy for president nearly two years after he exited the White House alongside former President Barack Obama.
Biden, a fixture in American politics with a distinguished career that reached into one of the most prestigious political offices in the nation, is jumping into the race for the Democratic nomination after months of speculation. With near universal name recognition, the former US senator enters as a likely front-runner in some of the early-nominating contests to take on President Donald Trump. This marks Biden’s third entry into a presidential race after deciding to stay on the sidelines of the 2016 election.
Biden first ran for president in 1988 but dropped out of the race just a few months later after reports of plagiarism arose. Biden used elements of a speech by a British politician as his own, without attribution. In an interview with ABC News, Biden explained the scandal as “Stupid. My mistake. Born out of ignorance, thinking I didn’t have to prepare.”
The former vice president also sought the 2008 Democratic nomination, dropping out after receiving less than 1% of the vote in the Iowa Caucus, and failing to win any delegates.
In the lead up to his formal entry, Biden faced early controversy after several women accused him of making them uncomfortable with what they considered inappropriate touching. But he posted a video acknowledging that “social norms are changing” and promising he would be “much more mindful,” calling it his “responsibility.”
One of the pinnacles of Biden’s career was the eight years he spent in the Obama White House, after joining then-Sen. Barack Obama’s ticket in 2008.
Biden was first sent to Washington in 1972 when the people of Delaware elected him to the U.S. Senate at 29 years old. He was one of the youngest people elected to a seat in the upper chamber.
Over his 36-year career in the Senate, Biden played a significant role in shaping both foreign and domestic policy — serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary and the Senate Foreign Relations committees. The landmark Crime Act and the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 is one of his signature pieces of legislation.
Here’s what you need to know:
Name: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
Date of Birth: Nov. 20, 1942
Birthplace: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Life after the Obama administration:
Throughout the 2018 midterms, Biden was a powerful surrogate for Democrats, making campaign swings through the Midwest and across the country to boost for Democratic candidates. As he hit the trail, Biden’s key message targeted those working-class voters, elevating his persona as “middle-class Joe,” a common nickname for the former Delaware senator.
Since leaving the White House, Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden announced the launch of the Biden Cancer Initiative to invest in efforts for cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research, and care. Biden’s son, Beau, died in May 2015 after battling brain cancer.
The University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware honored Biden with dedications bearing his name. The University of Pennsylvania announced the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement to honor his “unsurpassed understanding of diplomacy and far-ranging grasp of world issues” in 2017. That same year, the University of Delaware announced a partnership with Biden to launch the Biden Domestic Policy Institute.
“Every day of my career in public service has been motivated by the desire to ensure that every American is treated with dignity and gets a fair shot,” Biden said at the time of the announcement. “I am happy to continue that work at my alma mater.”
His political resume:
He served as vice president from 2009 to 2017, alongside his “brother” Obama. From 1973 to 2009, Biden served in the U.S. Senate and served on two key committees as both ranking member and chairman: the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. He formerly served on the New Castle County Council after graduating from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School.
The Biden vice presidency:
A few key moments of Biden’s vice presidency came in the form of his support for the LGBTQ community, cancer research and his mission to combat campus sexual assault.
After publicly supporting same-sex marriage ahead of his boss, Biden reportedly apologized to Obama in 2012.
But Obama said at the time in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts: “I think Joe is an extremely generous loving person. And I think he was responding honestly in terms of how he felt.”
Biden continued his support for protecting women from all forms of violence — even teaming up with performer Lady Gaga in 2017 to support the “It’s on Us” campaign against sexual assault.
Perhaps one of the most poignant moments of his vice presidency came when Obama surprised Biden with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully,” Obama said at the ceremony.
Hurdles for Biden:
Late in March and early in April, four women came forward accusing Biden of making them uncomfortable after interactions they had with the former vice president.
Lucy Flores, a former Nevada lawmaker, was the first woman to come forward at the end of March to say Biden crossed a line when he put his hands on her shoulders and kissed the back of her head while campaigning for her in 2014. Flores told ABC News that the interaction was “awkward and disturbing.”
Amy Lappos told the Hartford Currant Monday said Biden rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser when she was a congressional aide to Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. Two more women told the New York Times that they also felt uncomfortable after interactions they had with the former vice president.
While Biden addressed those accusations in a video and vowed he will “be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space,” days later, he made repeated jokes about having “permission” to hug and touch those on stage with him during his first public appearance since the allegations mounted.
“I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Biden said, referring to International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers male president Lonnie Stephenson, whom he hugged after being introduced on stage.
Another potential challenge for Biden was a pivotal moment in his Senate career when he oversaw the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his role as the head of the Judiciary Committee. He was criticized for his handling over the hearing, after Anita Hilltestified before the committee. Biden voted against Thomas, but the Senate nonetheless confirmed the then-nominee.
Biden has publicly apologized to Hill, and said in March at the Biden Courage Awards he regrets he “couldn’t come up with a way to get [Hill] the kind of hearing she deserved.”
He’s also faced scrutiny for his stance on busing in Delaware in the 1970s.
“He never thought busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware — a position which most people now agree with,” Biden’s spokesman Bill Russo said in a statement released to The Washington Post. “As he said during those many years of debate, busing would not achieve equal opportunity. And it didn’t.”
In 2002, Biden voted for the Iraq War, a decision he later said was “a mistake.”
The former vice president has also come under fire after several women came forward to say Biden made them feel uncomfortable when he touched them without their permission. Biden responded, acknowledging “social norms are changing” and promising he would be “much more mindful, ” in the future, calling it his “responsibility.”
What you might not know about him:
Biden is the first of four siblings, and as a child and teenager, he struggled with a stutter. A young Biden overcame the affliction through public speaking.
During his college years at the University of Delaware, Biden played football.
In the weeks after being elected to the Senate in 1972, tragedy struck the Biden family after a car accident killed his first wife, Neilia and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, and severely injured his sons, Beau and Hunter. In 1977, he married Jill Biden.
After Biden’s 46-year old son, Beau, lost his battle to cancer in 2015, Obama eulogized the former Delaware Attorney General during a memorial service. The Biden family received 72,000 condolences through the White House’s virtual system after the death of Beau — and condolences were submitted from every state, according to the vice president’s office.
One of Biden’s significant achievements during his time at the helm of the Judiciary Committee was appointing California Sen. Dianne Feinstein to the dais.
“He made me the first woman on the Judiciary Committee 26 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it,” Feinstein told CNN and confirmed to ABC News. ABC News Vanguard