Joseph Biden

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Joseph Biden
Joe Biden, official photo.jpg
47th Vice-President of the United States
Term of office
January 20, 2009 - Present
Political party Democrat
President Barack Hussein Obama
Preceded by Richard Cheney
Succeeded by Incumbent
Born November 20, 1942
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Age 79
Spouse Jill Biden
Religion Roman Catholic

Joe Biden (born Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. on 20 November 1942) is the Vice President of the United States. Biden, notorious for his long-winded speeches and his foot-in-mouth moments, is an expert on foreign affairs, as noted by his support of opening a new front on the War on Terror in 2003. He is a staunch liberal on domestic policy, and is the first Catholic Vice President.

He won few votes when running for president in 2008; he dropped out after placing fifth in Iowa in January, 2008. Biden became Barack Obama's vice-presidential running mate. His campaign stressed his Irish Catholic roots in appeals to working class Democrats, who had deserted Obama in the primaries but returned in the fall.

Biden, senator from Delaware 1973-2009, chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and subsequently the Committee on Foreign Relations. Biden in 2007 was ranked as the third most liberal Senator by the non-partisan National Journal. [1] He previously ran for President in 1988 but dropped out of the race after admitting he had plagiarized a speech by the leader of the British Labour Party.[2] Joe Biden's son Beau, who was elected Attorney General of Delaware in 2006, is currently serving in Iraq as a military attorney, and is a likely candidate for Biden's old Senate seat in 2010.[3]

Early Life and Education

Biden was born at Scranton State General Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania[4] and grew up in New Castle County, Delaware, [5] in a middle class family. His father was a white collar businessmen who did well, but had fallen on hard times when Biden was a youth.[6] Biden attended Archmere Academy, a private Catholic college-preparatory high school in the Wilmington, Delaware area, graduating in 1961.[5] Biden took a summer job to help his family pay for his schooling.[6][7] He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965, and from the Syracuse University College of Law in 1968 near the bottom of his class.[5] While attending Syracuse Law School, he submitted a paper in which he plagiarized from a law review article. After receiving a grade of F, he was permitted to retake the course.[8]

In 1966, while still in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter.[4] They had three children together: Joseph R. "Beau" Dien, III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi. Shortly after his election to the Senate in 1972, his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident, and his two sons were seriously injured.[4] He eventually remarried to Dr. Jill Biden (nee Jacobs), an educator in Delaware's schools.[5] She currently is an instructor[9] teaching at Delaware Technical Community College. Together, the couple added a daughter, Ashley Biden, to the family.[5]

Since 1991, Biden has been an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.[5]

United States Senate

Biden on Meet The Press, 09/09/07
Biden took office on January 3, 1973, at age 30, becoming the fifth-youngest U.S. Senator in United States history. He was later reelected five times. Biden calls himself pro-choice and opposed president George W. Bush's two nominees to the U.S. Supreme court. On Roe v. Wade he said, "I strongly support Roe v. Wade....That’s why I led the fight to defeat [Robert] Bork. Thank God he is not in the Court or Roe v. Wade would be gone by now." [10] He received a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006. [11] However, not in other years because of his opposition to partial-birth abortion and public funding for abortions. [12] On government spending Biden requested 116 congressional earmarks in 2008 alone, resulting in $342 million in taxpayer money. [13] He is a strong opponent of 2nd-amendment rights, earning an F by the National Rifle Association. Biden has also voted to give Social Security benefits and citizenship to illegal aliens. On energy, he opposes more domestic oil production, saying proponents of offshore drilling want to "rape" the Outer Continental Shelf. [14]

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden was a major player in making foreign policy. He voted against the Persian Gulf War in 1991, but voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002, although he now criticizes the management of the war. He voted against setting a timetable for troop withdrawal and is against cutting off funding for the troops on the ground. In a 2005 interview with Meet the Press, Biden said, "I’ve been calling for more troops [in Iraq] for over two years, along with John McCain and others subsequent to my saying that." On July 23, 2007 Biden said, "there's not a single military man in this audience, who will tell this Senator he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today, lets start telling the truth." [15] He has also proposed dividing the Iraqi Population by giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions.

Biden was a long-time member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which he chaired from 1987 until 1995 and served as ranking minority member from 1981 until 1987 and again from 1995 until 1997. He almost never supported a supreme court nominee who was not in his party and presided over two of the more contentious U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings ever, Robert Bork in 1987 and the racially motivated hearings for Clarence Thomas[16] in 1991.

Joe Biden has close ties with lobbyists, receiving $5,133,072 in contributions from lawyers and lobbyists since 2003. [17] One of Biden’s sons, Hunter Biden, has been a registered Washington lobbyist since 2001. [18]

Controversial comments

  • During the 2005 confirmation hearings for Justice John Roberts, Biden asked Roberts, "Can a microscopic tag be planted in someones body to track his every move, you will rule on that." [19]
  • In July 2006, while speaking to a group of Indian-Americans in Delaware, Biden stated, "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." His comment was caught on C-SPAN. [20]
  • In August of 2006, Biden was on Fox News Sunday and bragged about his state being a former slave state. "You don't know my state. My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state is the eighth largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a northeast liberal state." [21]
  • Talking about his fellow Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama he said in January of 2007, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, ... I mean, that's a storybook, man." [22]
  • In March 2007, Biden was criticizing President George W. Bush for vetoing a bill that would set a time line for troops to be removed from Iraq, saying that Congress should "shove it down his throat."[23]
  • Joe Biden once told voters that his helicopter was "forced down" on "the superhighway of terror" by Afghan extremists. When actually, snow forced the helicopter pilot to land and wait out a storm. [24]
  • In the Oct. 2008 VP debate, Biden made numerous misstatements, on topics ranging from the Constitution to the Mideast. [25]

1988 Presidential Campaign

Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President in 1987. He ran on his experience, saying in an campaign advertisement "The White House isn't the place to learn how to deal with international crisis, the balance of power, war and peace, and the economic future of the next generation." His campaign was short-lived due to controversies. While campaigning in New Hampshire in 1987, a reporter asked about his grades in college, to which Biden yelled, "I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do." He went on to say that he "went to law school on a full academic scholarship - the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship" adding that he "ended up in the top half" of his class (which is false)[Citation Needed] and "graduated with three degrees from college" (which is also false).[Citation Needed]

Later in the campaign he was found to have plagiarized a speech from British Labour Party (UK) leader Neil Kinnock. The plagiarism was considered all the more serious, because it included details of Kinnock's life which were not true in Biden's case. Biden dropped out of the race in December 1987, and did not participate in the 1988 Democratic caucuses and primaries.

2004 Presidential Campaign

Joe Biden considered running as a Presidential candidate for the 2004 elections, but then decided against it, saying that it would be "now too much of a long shot."[26]. He was later mentioned as a possible running mate for Democratic Senator John Kerry, but he instead urged Kerry to chose Senator John McCain.[27]

2008 Presidential Campaign

Biden declared his candidacy for President on January 31, 2007 after months of prior discussions, but later withdrew after the Iowa Caucus when his candidacy failed to catch on with the voters.[28]

He ran on his foreign policy experience and credentials in the Senate. On November 15, 2007, during the CNN presidential debate, he said

"This is not about experience. It's not about change. It's about action. Who among us is going to be able to, on Day 1, step in and end the war?".

In the 2007 ABC debate with the Democratic presidential candidates, Biden was asked about the statement he made earlier regarding Barack Obama. He said:

"I think he can be ready but right now, I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." Biden replied "I think that I stand by the statement." [29]

Joe Biden withdrew from the presidential race on January 3, after coming 5th in the Iowa caucus, receiving only 1% of the vote.

Vice Presidential Nomination

Biden campaigning for Barack Obama, 09/24/08
Biden had been mentioned as a Vice Presidential candidate for Senator Barack Obama, in that he would add foreign policy experience to the ticket. When asked in June over the speculation, Biden stated, "I'd make a great president. I'd make a great Secretary of State. I'd make a great vice president." [30] On August 19th, Biden was asked by reporters of his VP status, to which he replied "Hey guys, I'm not the guy. See ya." [31]

In August 2005 Biden paradoxically and nonsensically said, "John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend, and I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off."[32]

However, on August 23rd it was announced that Biden would be Obama's 2008 running mate. They appeared together in Springfield, Illinois. Obama proudly introduced Senator Biden,

"Let me introduce to you, the next president — the next vice president of the United States of America, Joe Biden."

Biden took the stage and endorsed Obama, saying,

"In this election year the choice is clear, one man stands ready to deliver change we desperately need, a man I'm proud to call my friend, a man who will be the next President of the United States, Barack America."

Obama hoped Biden would help the ticket in multiple ways:

  • Biden has extensive foreign policy experience in the United States Senate and as such could have helped to bolster Obama's comparative lack of experience in this area.
  • Biden is Catholic, and Obama was weak with that key voting bloc; however, the Catholic Church may have taken offense at Biden's pro-abortion positions (see below).
  • Biden was born in Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Obama where he was thought to be weak;[33]
  • Biden's son is going to Iraq, which may have helped to rehabilitate Obama's image as anti-military; however, Biden himself never served.

Almost immediately after his selection, the conflict between his pro-abortion position and that of his church surfaced:[34]

Biden has said: "I am a long-standing supporter of Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose." But Biden's own bishop, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., has ... denounced the notion that politicians can 'personally oppose' abortion, but refuse to pass laws protecting the unborn. He made clear that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving the Eucharist:
"The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic teaching and the Catholic faithful."

In September of the campaign Biden asked Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham, who has paralysis, to "Stand up, Chuck, let 'em see you. Oh, God love you. What am I talking about? I tell you what, you're making everybody else stand up, though, pal. I tell you what, stand up for Chuck." [35]

Biden's Republican opponent for the Vice Presidency was Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. They participated in their first and only Vice Presidential debate on October 2nd in St. Louis, Missouri. Biden was elected the 47th Vice President of the United States on November 4, 2008.

Vice Presidency

Biden's responsibilities as vice president are not yet clear. He has no specific portfolio of responsibilities. He alarmed the nation on April 30, 2009, by going on network television to warn Americans to stay out of confined spaces such as subways and airplanes, lest they catch Swine Flu. People health officials rejected his scare tactics and the White House immediately repudiated them.

Under President Obama the budget deficit reached over $1 trillion for the first time in history. When asked over the fate of the United States' going into bankruptcy, Biden stated at an AARP meeting, "Now, people when I say that look at me and say, "What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’" Biden said. "The answer is yes, that's what I’m telling you." [36]

See also


  2. Biden's way with words now seems to be a liability - St. Petersburg Times - Sep 20, 1987
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Joe Biden Timeline [1]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Joe Biden Biography [2]
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. Archmere Academy [3]Tuition for 2008-2009 is $18,450.
  8. Biden Admits Plagiarism in School But Says It Was Not 'Malevolent', By E. J. DIONNE JR., SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, Published: September 18, 1987 [4]
  16. Clarence Thomas High-Tech Lynching
  26. CNN: Who is in, who is out 2004
  28. FOX News: Biden, Dodd Bow Out of Presidential Race After Poor Showings in Iowa
  29. McCain Launches TV Ad Using Biden’s Words Against Obama Fox News, August 23, 2008
  30. The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: Biden: I'd Make a Great President, Secretary of State, Vice President
  31. Biden on Obama's VP Pick: 'I'm Not The Guy' ABC News, August 19, 2008
  32. National Review Online: 'Just Words' That Joe Biden Would Like To Forget
  33. Hillary Clinton defeated Obama by a wide margin in the Pennsylvania primary; in August polls show Obama leading McCain by an average of only 5.8% in Pennsylvania RealClearPolitics Pennsylvania Tracking
  34. Reuters: Choice of Biden Re-Opens Catholic Wound

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