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President-elect Joe Biden: what you need to know

Credit: Belga

Four days after Americans took to the polls to elect the next president of the United States, a winner has come through: Joe Biden.

Biden ran as the Democratic candidate against incumbent Republican president Donald Trump. Biden led Trump with 253 to 214 electoral college votes as election results came in, and on Saturday won enough states to push him over the required 270 electoral college votes to win.

With that, here’s what you need to know about president-elect Joe Biden.

Early life
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., was born on 20 November 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania – the state that won him the 20 electoral votes he needed to secure the presidency. Biden and his family moved to the state of Delaware in the 1950s.

Biden went to the University of Delaware in Newark and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965, majoring in history and political science and minoring in English.

He then obtained a law degree at Syracuse university in 1968 and passed the Delaware bar in 1969. While at Syracuse University he married Neillia Hunter, with whom he had three children – Joseph R. ‘Beau’ Biden III (who passed away of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46), Robert Hunter Biden, and Naomi Christina ‘Amy’ Biden.

Neillia and Amy Biden died in a car accident on 18 December 1972, in which Beau and Hunter were also injured.

Biden initially worked as an assistant in the law firm of William Prickett, a Republican politician. Biden told Time Magazine in 1987 that, at the time, he thought of himself as a Republican. His disagreement with former president Richard Nixon’s politics made him leave the Republican side behind and register as an Independent.

Biden later re-registered as a Democrat and gained a seat on a county council, until 1972, when he ran for the Senate in Delaware and defeated J. Caleb Boggs, who had served for 12 years before losing to Biden in the closest Senate election of that year. That election happened to happen on 7 November, 1972 – or 48 years to the day before he became president-elect.

Biden was the sixth youngest Senator to ever take office at 30 years, 1 month and 14 days old and went on to serve there for 36 years.

Three years later, he met Jill Tracy Jacobs, and they were married two years after that, in 1977. In 1981, their daughter Ashley was born.

Third time’s a charm
President-elect Joe Biden first tried to run for office in the 1988 presidential campaign. His first run, if successful, would have made him the second-youngest person to be elected president after John F. Kennedy.

However, during these elections, he was accused of plagiarising a speech by Neil Kinnock of the British Labour Party. That was one of multiple factors that contributed to his withdrawal from the race on 23 September 1987.

Biden’s second attempt at claiming the White House was in 2008. While that race didn’t bring him to the Oval Office, he found his way to the White House as the vice-presidential nominee for Barack Obama, defeating senator John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin. Biden served for eight years as Vice President of the United States.

In the 2020 presidential election campaign, Biden was one of a record-breaking 28 candidates for the Democratic ticket, facing off against the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Biden prevailed and went on to nominate senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential nominee.

More than a quarter of a century after his first shot at the White House, Biden is not the second youngest but indeed the oldest ever presidential nominee. He will be 78 years old when he takes office.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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