Vice President Joe Biden has devoted the majority of his life serving in public office, even when there were times when controversy and personal tragedy threatened to cut is career short.
Born November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of 4 siblings, Joe and his family moved around the area before heading to Delaware, where his Father hoped to find employment. Those were rough years for the Biden’s, but young Joe became hugely popular in school thanks to his excellence in sports and his natural leadership abilities. His academics suffered somewhat, but he did enough to earn a spot at the University of Delaware. Despite seeming more interested in his spots career, Biden still managed to graduate with a BA, and admission to the Syracuse University College of Law in 1965. His time there was marred by accusations of plagiarizing, something that would rear its head again in later years, but he did eventually graduate in 1968 and passed the Delaware bar one year later.
During his time at SUCL, Joe met his future wife Neilia Hunter, and the couple went on to have 3 children before tragedy struck the family in December of 1972. While out Christmas shopping, Neilia’s car was hit by a tractor trailer, killing her and one of the children. The incident came just as Biden was in his early years as a politician and it very nearly caused him to walk away from both politics and his law firm. As it was, he was convinced by friends to continue his career path, and he eventually did so with a renewed vigor, while still finding the time within his busy schedule to care for his 2 surviving children. Happier times were ahead, and he met Jill Jacobs in 75 and went on to marry her two years later. The couple has one daughter, Ashley, from the marriage.
Biden took office in the US Senate in 1973, only 30 years old at the time and the 6th youngest senator in US history. Since then, he has been re-elected 6 times and when he finally resigned to take up his VP post earlier this year, he was the 4th most senior senator in office. It is a testament to his strong will that he was able to last that long, given that he has long been thought of as being terribly long winded and prone to making rather offensive remarks. Add to that the fact that he survived an aneurysm in 1988, one thought so bad that last rites were administered by his bedside, and you can begin to understand just how effective he has been at his job. The highlights of his time in office include an 8 year stint as chairman of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary, before becoming chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a position he held until his resignation from the senate in 2009.
It would have been easy for Joe to rest on his laurels and continue to serve on the senate, but he had loftier goals and in 1988 he made his first bid for the Presidency. That run was cut short when, just like his school days, he was accused of plagiarizing. This time it was part of a speech given by British MP, Neil Kinnock, and although he had credited Kinnock with the source in previous speeches, he failed to do so in a televised debate. It was a full 20 years before he threw his hat into the Presidential race once more, announcing his plans to run in the most recent election. Hid bid ended early again, but not before his experience and obvious comfort in the debating arena caught the attention of Barack Obama, and in August of 2008, he was officially announced as the Vice Presidential nominee. The rest is history, and in January the pair took their place in the White House to begin their first term as President and Vice President.