Joe Biden is a rare mix. A leader who has worked for decades in Washington, but has never lived there. An expert on foreign policy, whose heart and values are firmly rooted in the middle class. He has stared down dictators, and spoken for America's cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to serve as Barack Obama's partner in the urgent mission to bring about the change America needs to put our country back on track.
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., age 65, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on November 20, 1942, to Joseph Sr. and Jean Biden, the oldest of four. In 1953, the Biden family moved from Pennsylvania to Claymont, Delaware. Biden attended parochial school at St. Helena's School in Wilmington and the Archmere Academy in Claymont. Public service has always been an important part of Biden family life -- one of Joe's great grandfathers served as a Pennsylvania state senator.
After graduating from the University of Delaware in 1965 and from law school at Syracuse University in 1968, Biden moved back to the Wilmington area and set up his own law firm. He practiced law until 1972.
In 1970, Biden -- at age 27 -- ran for New Castle County Council and won in a Republican district. At age 29, he launched an improbable bid to unseat two-term Republican US Senator J. Caleb Boggs. With very little help from the state establishment, and with his sister as his campaign manager, Biden defeated Boggs by 3,162 votes.
Just weeks after the election, Biden's wife, Neilia, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed and their two young sons critically injured in an auto accident. Biden was sworn in at his son's hospital bedside and began commuting to Washington every day by train, a practice he has maintained throughout his career in the Senate.
In 1977, Biden married Jill Jacobs. Jill Biden, who holds an EdD, has been an educator for over two decades in Delaware's schools. Currently she is a professor at Delaware Technical Community College.
Senator Biden has three children: Beau, Hunter, and Ashley. Beau currently serves as Delaware's Attorney General -- and as a captain in the 261st Signal Brigade of the Delaware National Guard. Ashley is a social worker and Hunter is an attorney. Senator Biden also has five grandchildren: Naomi, Finnegan, Roberta Mabel, Natalie, and Robert Hunter.
In 1988, Biden suffered a cranial aneurysm and nearly died. He recovered by early 1989 after two surgeries and has enjoyed good health since then.
In addition to serving as US Senator, Biden has been an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law since 1991, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.
Key Career Accomplishments
Biden became ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee in 1997 and served as chairman of the committee from 2001 to 2003 and from 2007 to the present. He served as chairman or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for sixteen years. He is recognized as one of the nation's leading authorities on foreign policy, as well as one of its most influential voices on terrorism, drug policy, crime, and issues important to women. He has been a tireless advocate for working families and has reached across the aisle to work with Republicans on tackling some of the greatest challenges facing Americans.
- Like Barack Obama, Biden has been an outspoken critic of George W. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq.
- Biden's leadership was instrumental in helping to bring stability and peace to the Balkans. In 1999, Biden wrote a resolution endorsing the air war in Kosovo that was passed by the Senate.
- Biden has been a leader of the congressional effort to end genocide in Darfur.
- In the late 1990s, Biden led the effort in the Senate to bring Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO and to pass the Chemical Weapons Treaty.
- Biden has been instrumental in crafting almost every major piece of crime legislation over the past two decades. His Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 put more than 100,000 police officers on America's streets and has been credited with bringing crime rates down to the lowest point in a generation.
- In 1996, Biden authored legislation to create a national registry of sex offenders, which tracks people convicted of sex crimes involving violence or committed against minors.
- Biden authored and passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act, the strongest legislation to date that criminalizes domestic violence and holds batterers accountable.
- Biden was a strong supporter of the Family and Medical Leave Act, cracked down on deadbeat dads, and has been a consistent champion for equal pay.
- Biden was one of the first to introduce legislation to address global warming and he co-sponsored the most aggressive pieces of climate change legislation in the US Senate.
- Biden is a champion on the issue of making college more affordable by using the tax code to reduce costs.
- Biden was successful in passing a provision that prevents budget cuts to military facilities while the nation is at war, an effor that shored up one of his key priorities -- top-notch medical treatment for all veterans in a fully-funded VA health care system.