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May 5th, 2019

The last profile in this series would have been the first alphabetically (and therefore the first profiled) but for the fact that when this series started, he wasn't a candidate yet. But even before he declared his candidacy on April 25, 2019, Joe Biden was in first place in the polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, and he has increased his lead since then. Biden leads with 36.8%, over 20% ahead of Bernie Sanders, who recently dropped from 24% to 16.4%. It looked like Biden's candidacy might be derailed when the media profiled Biden's "hands on" grabby manner, but this doesn't appear to have affected Biden's popularity among Democrats.

In a campaign year that seems to feature a lot of senior citizen candidates, 76 year old Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., who was born on November 20, 1942, served as the 47th vice president of the United States from 2009 to 2017, but chose not to run for President in 2016, likely because his President, Barack Obama, was backing Hillary Clinton. Biden is a veteran politician who represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009.

Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and lived there for ten years before moving with his family to Delaware. He became an lawyer in 1969 and was elected to the New Castle County Council in 1970. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at age 30, when he became the sixth-youngest senator in American history. Biden was re-elected to the upper house of Congress six times and was the fourth most senior senator when he resigned to become Vice-President in 2009. While in the Senate, Biden was chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. He expressed opposition to the Gulf War in 1991, but he later called for U.S. and NATO intervention in the Bosnian War in 1994 and 1995. Biden voted in favor of the resolution authorizing the Iraq War in 2002. He opposed the surge of U.S. troops in 2007.

Biden also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He led the campaign to pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and the Violence Against Women Act. He also chaired the Judiciary Committee during the contentious U.S. Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Biden unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and in 2008, both times dropping out after a poor showing in each race. But in 2008, Biden was chosen as the running mate of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. After being elected vice president, Biden was assigned management of infrastructure spending aimed at counteracting the Great Recession. He also helped formulate U.S. policy toward Iraq up until the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011. Biden used his relations with with congressional Republicans to help the Obama administration pass legislation such as the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, the Job Creation Act of 2010, the Budget Control Act of 2011, and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. According to some reports, Biden advised President Obama against approving the 2011 military mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

In October 2015, Biden announced he would not seek the presidency in the 2016 elections. In January 2017, Biden was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction. After completing his second term as vice president, Biden joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was named the Benjamin Franklin Professor of Presidential Practice.

Biden's 2020 presidential campaign is his third attempt to seek election for president of the United States. He first ran in the 1988 Democratic Party primaries, and he was initially considered one of the strongest candidates. But his campaign stumbled after the media revealed incidents of plagiarism by Biden in law school records and in speeches. He withdrawal from the race in September 1987. Biden ran for the second time in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries. His main issue was a plan to achieve political success in the Iraq War through a system of federalization. But Biden failed to obtain sufficient endorsements and withdrew from the race after his poor performance in the Iowa caucus in January 3, 2008. Biden was eventually chosen by Barack Obama as his running mate and won the general election as vice president.

On October 21, 2015, following the death of his son Beau, Biden announced that he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. On December 5, 2016, he refused to rule out a potential bid for the presidency in 2020. In an appearance of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on December 7, 2016, he told the host "never say never" about running for president in 2020, but he also said that he did not see a scenario in which he would run for office again. On January 13, 2017, just prior to the end of his vice presidential term, he once again stated that he would not run. However, four days later, he quipped, "I'll run if I can walk."

In January of 2018, Time for Biden, a political action committee, was formed promoting Biden's running in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries. In March 2018, Politico reported that Biden's team was considering a number of options to distinguish their campaign, such as announcing a younger vice presidential candidate from outside of politics. Politico also reported that Biden had not ruled out serving two terms as president.

On March 12, 2019, he told a gathering of supporters that he might need their energy "in a few weeks". On April 19, 2019, The Atlantic reported that Biden planned to officially announce his campaign on April 24, 2019 in a video announcement, followed by a subsequent launch rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or Charlottesville, Virginia. On April 22, Biden's plans remained uncertain, with no known launch date, locations for campaign rallies unknown, and no permits secured for an event in Philadelphia. Biden released a video formally announcing his campaign early on April 25. On April 26, Biden's campaign announced that they had raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours, surpassing all other candidates' first 24 hour fundraising totals for the Democratic presidential nomination at that time.

If selected as the Democratic Candidate in 2020, Biden would be 77 years old on election day and 78 on inauguration day in 2021 if elected. It looked as if Biden's campaign might have ended before it began. Media sources ran multiple photographs of Biden engaged in what commentators considered to be inappropriate proximity to women and children, including kissing and or touching. Biden has described himself as a "tactile politician" and admitted that this behavior has caused trouble for him in the past. In March 2019, former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores alleged that Biden kissed her without her consent at a 2014 campaign rally in Las Vegas. In a New York magazine op-ed for The Cut, Flores wrote that Biden had walked up behind her, put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair, and kissed the back of her head. Adding that the way he touched her was "an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners – and I felt powerless to do anything about it." Flores said that she believed Biden's behavior to be disqualifying for a 2020 presidential run. Biden claimed that he did not recall the behavior described. Later in March, Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide, said Biden touched her in a non-sexual, but inappropriate way by holding her head to rub noses with her at a political fundraiser in Greenwich in 2009. The next day, two additional women came forward with allegations of inappropriate conduct. One woman said that Biden placed his hand on her thigh, and the other said he ran his hand from her shoulder down her back.

By early April 2019, a total of seven women had made allegations of inappropriate physical contact regarding Biden. On April 5, Biden apologized for not understanding how individuals would react to his actions, but maintained that his intentions were honorable. He added that he was not sorry for anything that he had ever done. This controversy does not seem to have affected Biden's early polling numbers.

According to a National Journal analysis, Biden has a lifetime average liberal score of 77.5 percent. His economic rating was 80 percent liberal and 13 percent conservative. His social rating was 78 percent liberal and 18 percent conservative, and his foreign rating was 71 percent liberal and 25 percent conservative. The American Civil Liberties Union gives him an 80 percent lifetime score. Biden is opposed to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and supports governmental funding to find new energy sources. He has called for action to be taken on global warming. Biden was given an 85 percent lifetime approval rating from the AFL–CIO, and he voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

If Biden becomes the Democratic Party candidate in 2020, it will set a record for the oldest age for the presidential candidate for both major political parties. Will voters opt for age and experience, or will they opt for change once again? These are indeed interesting political times.


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