The democrat Joe Biden has suffered Deep personal tragedies and he has seen political ambitions thwarted, but his promise to unify Americans ultimately landed him in the White House after nearly half a century in Washington.
In his third presidential nomination, his victory over Donald Trump on Saturday it was the culmination of a long political career in pursuit of the conciliation of a deeply polarized nation.
Rarely were two presidential candidates as dissimilar as in the 2020 campaign, which pitted veteran politician Biden, former vice president and former senator, with billionaire businessman Trump, who arrived four years ago as an “outsider” in the Oval Office.
But after competing for the White House in 1987 and 2008, “Middle Class Joe” has been vindicated in his fervent belief that he could change the tone in America: from anger and suspicion to dignity and respect.
Confident, he accumulated the necessary electoral votes during four long days of counting after the November 3 elections, including those in Delaware, where he resides, and the great prizes of California and New York, as well as the American capital. Now the 46th president-elect of the United States has a lot of work ahead of him.
Inherits a coronavirus pandemic that shows no signs of abating and has killed more people than in any other country, and a position of credibility damaged by Trump’s “lies.”
Losing to a Republican, Biden said recently, would have meant he was a “lousy” candidate.
Biden is low-key but not shy. He was relentless in his criticism of Trump for handling the pandemic and in 2018 told students at a Florida university that if the mogul were his high school classmate, he would “hit him like hell.”
Biden hit the sand national policy with only 29 years, after a surprise victory as a senator from Delaware in 1972.
But a month later, tragedy struck: His wife Neilia and their one-year-old daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident while they were Christmas shopping.
The two sons of Biden were seriously injured, but survived, although in 2015, the eldest, Beau, would die of cancer.
These losses forged the empathy Biden transmits when he interacts with people.
His political skills are unmatched – he can show his million-watt smile to college students, sympathize with unemployed machinists in the industrial Midwest, or give a fierce warning to his rivals.
That propensity affable and gregarious was restricted by covid-19, which in March forced him to stay home and made him more cautious.
Although he no longer has the dynamism of when he was vice president of Barack Obama, Biden maintains his dazzling smile. His walk, however, is more delicate and his white hair looks finer.
His opponents, and even some Democrats, wondered if the talkative and error-prone Biden would stumble in his long campaign against Trump. The 74-year-old president regularly called him “Sleeping Joe” and said his mental abilities were diminished.
But Biden shrugged off the attacks, and in a fit of frustration at Trump’s incessant interruptions during their first debate, he went so far as to ask him to shut up.
The oldest president-elect of the United States began his career on Capitol Hill as one of the youngest senators in history. He spent more than three decades in the upper house before serving as Obama’s right-hand man from 2009 to 2017.
Biden’s message during the campaign was based largely on his association with the still popular Obama and his ability to negotiate with many world leaders. “I know these guys,” he remembered.
His statement of moderate policy at a time of division was balm for an electorate exhausted with scandal and chaos in the Trump White House.
But Biden also vowed to take genuinely progressive action on climate change, racial injustice, and student debt relief.
When I assume, it is many may wonder if the old statesman considers a second term.
I see myself as a bridge, not something else, “Biden said in March at a rally in Detroit, Michigan, alongside other Democratic leaders, including the woman who would become his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, 56 years old.
There is a whole generation of leaders who came after me, “he said.” They are the future of this country. “
Biden hardly got that far. Despite being the darling of the Democratic establishment, some considered him too old or too centrist.
His campaign seemed headed for disaster earlier this year after disappointing losses in the Democratic primary to the enthusiastic Bernie Sanders.
But Biden, whom Obama called the “lion of American history,” returned roaring to the internals in South Carolina thanks to the overwhelming support of black voters, a crucial base for every Democrat.
Winning the nomination marked a stark contrast to his retirement in 1988, when he resigned amid accusations of plagiarism of a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock.
He did no better in 2008, and he left the race after collecting less than 1% of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.
That year he was finally chosen as a running mate by Obama, who assigned him to oversee the economic recovery during the Great Recession.
The two differed on Afghanistan at the beginning of Obama’s first term, when Biden opposed an “increase” of 30,000 troops.
As a senator, he was questioned, including by Harris, the next vice president of the United States, for associating with known segregationists and opposing the transportation policies of the 1970s for black children to attend predominantly white schools.
He was also criticized for helping draft a 1994 crime law that many Democrats believe increased incarcerations, disproportionately affecting African-Americans. Biden recently called this a “mistake.”
Other Senate episodes also threatened to spoil his presidential campaign: his 2003 vote in favor of the Iraq war and his presidency of controversial 1991 hearings in which Professor Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. .
Last year he was embroiled in controversy over his tendency to be overly affectionate towards women, for which he apologized and vowed to be more “aware” of female personal space.
Biden relays the poignant details of his family history so frequently that they have become part of a political brand.
The 1972 accident left their sons Beau, four, and Hunter, two, seriously injured, and Biden, 30, swore by their hospital beds. Biden met his second wife, Professor Jill Jacobs, in 1975 and they married two years later. They have a daughter, Ashley.
His children recovered from his injuries and Beau followed his father into politics, becoming Delaware’s attorney general, but the rising Democratic star died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.
“When they knock you down, you stand up”
Lawyer and lobbyist Hunter Biden has had a different track record.
He received a lucrative salary as a member of the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company accused of corruption while his father was vice president.
Trump’s pressure for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens led to the president’s impeachment last December by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives, but the president was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.
Hunter was not charged with any charges, but Trump continued to raise the issue in the campaign, claiming that the Bidens were a “crime family” that grew rich on corruption.
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born on November 20, 1942 and grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in a very Catholic family of Irish origin.
His father was a car salesman, but in the 1950s he lost his job and the family moved to neighboring Delaware when he was 10 years old.
My dad always said, ‘Champion, when they knock you down, you stand up,’ “says Biden.
In Delaware, as a young man, he worked as a lifeguard in a pool in a black neighborhood and there he learned about the injustices and inequalities that affect this community, which sparked his interest in politics.
Biden studied at the University of Delaware and Syracuse University School of Law, and says he is proud that he is not a product of the elite Ivy League.
As a child he suffered from a very strong stutter, but he overcame it and since then has supported others from the “same club,” as one teenager told the Democratic convention when thanking him for his advice.
“It never goes away”
Biden often highlights the support of his wife Jill, 69, the woman who “brought her family back together.”
But she said she lives with the grief after Beau’s death. “It never goes away,” he said. This loss made him rule out a presidential candidacy in 2016.
Even today, he often stops to greet the firefighters, remembering that it was they who saved his children when the accident occurred.
They saved him too. In 1988, firefighters rushed him to the hospital after he suffered an aneurysm.
Biden was so ill that a priest was called in to give him the last rites. Almost every Sunday, Biden, a practicing Catholic, prays at St. Joseph on the Brandywine, a historic church in his affluent Wilmington neighborhood.
There, in the cemetery, his parents, his first wife and daughter, and his son rest under a tombstone decorated with small American flags.
In January, Biden confessed how much Beau weighs in his life. “Every morning I get up (…) and ask myself: Would you be proud of me?” He said.
Minute by Minute: Elections in the US, the change or the reelection of Trump
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