Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born on November 20, 1942, at St. Mary's Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Biden (née Finnegan) and Joseph Robinette Biden Sr. The oldest child in a Catholic family, he has a sister, Valerie, and two brothers, Francis and James. Jean was of Irish descent, while Joseph Sr. had English, Irish, and French Huguenot ancestry. Biden's paternal line has been traced to stonemason William Biden, who was born in 1789 in Westbourne, England, and emigrated to Maryland in the United States by 1820.
Biden's father had been wealthy, but suffered business setbacks around the time Biden was born, and for several years the family lived with Biden's maternal grandparents. Scranton fell into economic decline during the 1950s and Biden's father could not find steady work. Beginning in 1953 when Biden was ten, the family lived in an apartment in Claymont, Delaware, before moving to a house in nearby Mayfield. Biden Sr. later became a successful used-car salesman, maintaining the family in a middle-class lifestyle.
Biden had not openly supported or opposed the Vietnam War until he ran for Senate and opposed Nixon's conduct of the war. While studying at the University of Delaware and Syracuse University, Biden obtained five student draft deferments, at a time when most draftees were sent to the Vietnam War. In 1968, based on a physical examination, he was given a conditional medical deferment; in 2008, a spokesperson for Biden said his having had "asthma as a teenager" was the reason for the deferment.
In 1968, Biden clerked at a Wilmington law firm headed by prominent local Republican William Prickett and, he later said, "thought of myself as a Republican". He disliked incumbent Democratic Delaware governor Charles L. Terry's conservative racial politics and supported a more liberal Republican, Russell W. Peterson, who defeated Terry in 1968. Biden was recruited by local Republicans but registered as an Independent because of his distaste for Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon.
In 1969, Biden practiced law first as a public defender and then at a firm headed by a locally active Democrat who named him to the Democratic Forum, a group trying to reform and revitalize the state party; Biden subsequently reregistered as a Democrat. He and another attorney also formed a law firm.Corporate law, however, did not appeal to him, and criminal law did not pay well. He supplemented his income by managing properties.
In 1970, Biden ran for the 4th district seat on the New Castle County Council on a liberal platform that included support for public housing in the suburbs. The seat had been held by Republican Henry R. Folsom, who was running in the 5th District following a reapportionment of council districts. Biden won the general election by defeating Republican Lawrence T. Messick, and took office on January 5, 1971. He served until January 1, 1973, and was succeeded by Democrat Francis R. Swift. During his time on the county council, Biden opposed large highway projects, which he argued might disrupt Wilmington neighborhoods.
Results of the 1972 U.S. Senate election in Delaware
In 1972, Biden defeated Republican incumbent J. Caleb Boggs to become the junior U.S. senator from Delaware. He was the only Democrat willing to challenge Boggs. With minimal campaign funds, he was given no chance of winning. Family members managed and staffed the campaign, which relied on meeting voters face-to-face and hand-distributing position papers, an approach made feasible by Delaware's small size. He received help from the AFL–CIO and Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell. His platform focused on the environment, withdrawal from Vietnam, civil rights, mass transit, equitable taxation, health care, and public dissatisfaction with "politics as usual". A few months before the election, Biden trailed Boggs by almost thirty percentage points, but his energy, attractive young family, and ability to connect with voters' emotions worked to his advantage, and he won with 50.5 percent of the vote. At the time of his election, he was still 29 years old, but reached the constitutionally required age of 30 before he was sworn in as Senator.
Death of wife and daughter
On December 18, 1972, a few weeks after the election, Biden's wife Neilia and one-year-old daughter Naomi were killed in an automobile accident while Christmas shopping in Hockessin, Delaware. Neilia's station wagon was hit by a semi-trailer truck as she pulled out from an intersection. Their sons Beau (aged3) and Hunter (aged2) survived the accident and were taken to the hospital in fair condition, Beau with a broken leg and other wounds and Hunter with a minor skull fracture and other head injuries. Biden considered resigning to care for them, but Senate Majority LeaderMike Mansfield persuaded him not to.
Years later, Biden said he had heard that the truck driver allegedly drank alcohol before the collision. The driver's family denied that claim, and the police never substantiated it. Biden later apologized to the family. The accident had filled him with anger and religious doubt. He wrote that he "felt God had played a horrible trick" on him, and he had trouble focusing on work.
Biden and his second wife, Jill, met in 1975 and married in 1977
To see his sons, Biden traveled by train between his Delaware home and D.C.—74 minutes each way—and maintained this habit throughout his 36 years in the Senate.
During his early years in the Senate, Biden focused on consumer protection and environmental issues and called for greater government accountability. In a 1974 interview, he described himself as liberal on civil rights and liberties, senior citizens' concerns and healthcare but conservative on other issues, including abortion and military conscription.
In 1993, Biden voted for a provision that deemed homosexuality incompatible with military life, thereby banning gays from serving in the armed forces. In 1996, he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, thereby barring individuals in such marriages from equal protection under federal law and allowing states to do the same. In 2015, the act was ruled unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges.
In the mid-1970s, Biden was one of the Senate's strongest opponents of race-integration busing. His Delaware constituents strongly opposed it, and such opposition nationwide later led his party to mostly abandon school integration policies. In his first Senate campaign, Biden had expressed support for busing to remedy de juresegregation, as in the South, but opposed its use to remedy de facto segregation arising from racial patterns of neighborhood residency, as in Delaware; he opposed a proposed constitutional amendment banning busing entirely.
In May 1974, Biden voted to table a proposal containing anti-busing and anti-desegregation clauses but later voted for a modified version containing a qualification that it was not intended to weaken the judiciary's power to enforce the 5th Amendment and 14th Amendment. In 1975, he supported a proposal that would have prevented the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from cutting federal funds to districts that refused to integrate; he said busing was a "bankrupt idea [violating] the cardinal rule of common sense" and that his opposition would make it easier for other liberals to follow suit. At the same time he supported initiatives on housing, job opportunities and voting rights. Biden supported a measure[when?] forbidding the use of federal funds for transporting students beyond the school closest to them. In 1977, he co-sponsored an amendment closing loopholes in that measure, which President Carter signed into law in 1978.
As chair, Biden presided over two highly contentious U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings. When Robert Bork was nominated in 1988, Biden reversed his approval—given in an interview the previous year—of a hypothetical Bork nomination. Conservatives were angered, but at the hearings' close Biden was praised for his fairness, humor, and courage. Rejecting the arguments of some Bork opponents, Biden framed his objections to Bork in terms of the conflict between Bork's strong originalism and the view that the U.S. Constitution provides rights to liberty and privacy beyond those explicitly enumerated in its text. Bork's nomination was rejected in the committee by a 9–5 vote and then in the full Senate, 58–42.
During Clarence Thomas's nomination hearings in 1991, Biden's questions on constitutional issues were often convoluted to the point that Thomas sometimes lost track of them, and Thomas later wrote that Biden's questions were akin to "beanballs". After the committee hearing closed, the public learned that Anita Hill, a University of Oklahoma law school professor, had accused Thomas of making unwelcome sexual comments when they had worked together. Biden had known of some of these charges, but initially shared them only with the committee because Hill was then unwilling to testify. The committee hearing was reopened and Hill testified, but Biden did not permit testimony from other witnesses, such as a woman who had made similar charges and experts on harassment, saying he wanted to preserve Thomas's privacy and the hearings' decency. The full Senate confirmed Thomas by a 52–48 vote, with Biden opposed. Liberal legal advocates and women's groups felt strongly that Biden had mishandled the hearings and not done enough to support Hill. Biden later sought out women to serve on the Judiciary Committee and emphasized women's issues in the committee's legislative agenda. In 2019, he told Hill he regretted his treatment of her, but Hill said afterward she remained unsatisfied.
Biden was a longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He became its ranking minority member in 1997 and chaired it from June 2001 to 2003 and 2007 to 2009. His positions were generally liberal internationalist. He collaborated effectively with Republicans and sometimes went against elements of his own party. During this time he met with at least 150 leaders from 60 countries and international organizations, becoming a well-known Democratic voice on foreign policy.
Biden voted against authorization for the Gulf War in 1991, siding with 45 of the 55 Democratic senators; he said the U.S. was bearing almost all the burden in the anti-Iraq coalition.
Biden wrote an amendment in 1992 to compel the Bush administration to arm the Bosnian Muslims, but deferred in 1994 to a somewhat softer stance the Clinton administration preferred, before signing on the following year to a stronger measure sponsored by Bob Dole and Joe Lieberman. The engagement led to a successful NATO peacekeeping effort. Biden has called his role in affecting Balkans policy in the mid-1990s his "proudest moment in public life" related to foreign policy.
As chair, Biden contributed to successfully encouraging the Clinton administration to commit the resources and political capital to broker what became the 1998 Good Friday Agreement between the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom through the Northern Ireland peace process.
On September 3, 1998, the resigning former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter had, according to Barton Gellman, accused the Clinton administration of obstructing weapons inspections in Iraq. Biden joined many other Senate Democrats and "amplified on the Clinton administration's counterattack against former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter." He questioned whether Ritter was trying to "appropriate the power 'to decide when to pull the trigger' of military force against Iraq", and said that the Secretary of State would also have to consider the opinion of allies, the UNSC, and public opinion, before any intervention in Iraq. In a Washington Post op-ed later that month, Biden criticized a unilateral "confrontation-based policy" but praised the idea of asking whether intervention might be necessary at some point, though he said it was "above the pay grade" of one weapons inspector.
Biden addresses the press after meeting with Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in Baghdad in 2004.
Biden was a strong supporter of the War in Afghanistan, saying, "Whatever it takes, we should do it." As head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said in 2002 that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was a threat to national security and there was no other option than to "eliminate" that threat. In October 2002, he voted in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, approving the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. As chair of the committee, he assembled a series of witnesses to testify in favor of the authorization. They gave testimony grossly misrepresenting the intent, history, and status of Saddam and his secular government, which was an avowed enemy of al-Qaida, and touted Iraq's fictional possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Biden eventually became a critic of the war and viewed his vote and role as a "mistake", but did not push for withdrawal. He supported the appropriations for the occupation, but argued that the war should be internationalized, that more soldiers were needed, and that the Bush administration should "level with the American people" about its cost and length.
By August his campaign's messaging had become confused due to staff rivalries, and in September, he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. Biden's speech had similar lines about being the first person in his family to attend university. Biden had credited Kinnock with the formulation on previous occasions, but did not on two occasions in late August.: 230–232  Kinnock himself was more forgiving; the two men met in 1988, forming an enduring friendship.
Earlier that year he had also used passages from a 1967 speech by Robert F. Kennedy (for which his aides took blame) and a short phrase from John F. Kennedy's inaugural address; two years earlier he had used a 1976 passage by Hubert Humphrey. Biden responded that politicians often borrow from one another without giving credit, and that one of his rivals for the nomination, Jesse Jackson, had called him to point out that he (Jackson) had used the same material by Humphrey that Biden had used.
A few days later, an incident in law school in which Biden drew text from a Fordham Law Review article with inadequate citations was publicized. He was required to repeat the course and passed with high marks. At Biden's request the Delaware Supreme Court's Board of Professional Responsibility reviewed the incident and concluded that he had violated no rules.
Biden has made several false or exaggerated claims about his early life: that he had earned three degrees in college, that he attended law school on a full scholarship, that he had graduated in the top half of his class, and that he had marched in the civil rights movement. The limited amount of other news about the presidential race amplified these disclosures and on September 23, 1987, Biden withdrew his candidacy, saying it had been overrun by "the exaggerated shadow" of his past mistakes.
After exploring the possibility of a run in several previous cycles, in January 2007, Biden declared his candidacy in the 2008 elections. During his campaign, Biden focused on the Iraq War, his record as chairman of major Senate committees, and his foreign-policy experience. In mid-2007, Biden stressed his foreign policy expertise compared to Obama's. Biden was noted for his one-liners during the campaign; in one debate he said of Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani: "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, and a verb and 9/11."
Biden had difficulty raising funds, struggled to draw people to his rallies, and failed to gain traction against the high-profile candidacies of Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. He never rose above single digits in national polls of the Democratic candidates. In the first contest on January 3, 2008, Biden placed fifth in the Iowa caucuses, garnering slightly less than one percent of the state delegates. He withdrew from the race that evening.
Despite its lack of success, Biden's 2008 campaign raised his stature in the political world.: 336 In particular, it changed the relationship between Biden and Obama. Although they had served together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, they had not been close: Biden resented Obama's quick rise to political stardom, while Obama viewed Biden as garrulous and patronizing.: 28, 337–338 Having gotten to know each other during 2007, Obama appreciated Biden's campaign style and appeal to working-class voters, and Biden said he became convinced Obama was "the real deal".: 28, 337–338
Shortly after Biden withdrew from the presidential race, Obama privately told him he was interested in finding an important place for Biden in his administration. In early August, Obama and Biden met in secret to discuss the possibility, and developed a strong personal rapport. On August 22, 2008, Obama announced that Biden would be his running mate.The New York Times reported that the strategy behind the choice reflected a desire to fill out the ticket with someone with foreign policy and national security experience. Others pointed out Biden's appeal to middle-class and blue-collar voters. Biden was officially nominated for vice president on August 27 by voice vote at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Biden's vice-presidential campaigning gained little media attention, as the press devoted far more coverage to the Republican nominee, Alaska GovernorSarah Palin. Under instructions from the campaign, Biden kept his speeches succinct and tried to avoid offhand remarks, such as one he made about Obama's being tested by a foreign power soon after taking office, which had attracted negative attention. Privately, Biden's remarks frustrated Obama. "How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?" he asked.: 411–414, 419 Obama campaign staffers called Biden's blunders "Joe bombs" and kept Biden uninformed about strategy discussions, which in turn irked Biden. Relations between the two campaigns became strained for a month, until Biden apologized on a call to Obama and the two built a stronger partnership.: 411–414 Publicly, Obama strategist David Axelrod said Biden's high popularity ratings had outweighed any unexpected comments.
At the same time Biden was running for vice president he was also running for reelection to the Senate, as permitted by Delaware law. On November4, he was reelected to the Senate, defeating Republican Christine O'Donnell. Having won both races, Biden made a point of waiting to resign from the Senate until he was sworn in for his seventh term on January 6, 2009. Biden cast his last Senate vote on January 15, supporting the release of the second $350billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and resigned from the Senate later that day.[n 2]
Biden being sworn in as vice president on January 20, 2009
First term, 2009–2013
Biden said he intended to eliminate some explicit roles assumed by George W. Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, and did not intend to emulate any previous vice presidency. He chaired Obama's transition team and headed an initiative to improve middle-class economic well-being. In early January 2009, in his last act as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, he visited the leaders of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and on January 20 he was sworn in as the 47th vice president of the United States—the first vice president from Delaware and the first Roman Catholic vice president.
Obama was soon comparing Biden to a basketball player "who does a bunch of things that don't show up in the stat sheet". In May, Biden visited Kosovo and affirmed the U.S. position that its "independence is irreversible". Biden lost an internal debate to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about sending 21,000 new troops to Afghanistan, but his skepticism was valued, and in 2009, Biden's views gained more influence as Obama reconsidered his Afghanistan strategy. Biden visited Iraq about every two months, becoming the administration's point man in delivering messages to Iraqi leadership about expected progress there. More generally, overseeing Iraq policy became Biden's responsibility: Obama was said to have said, "Joe, you do Iraq." Biden said Iraq "could be one of the great achievements of this administration". His January 2010 visit to Iraq in the midst of turmoil over banned candidates from the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary election resulted in 59 of the several hundred candidates being reinstated by the Iraqi government two days later. By 2012, Biden had made eight trips there, but his oversight of U.S. policy in Iraq receded with the exit of U.S. troops in 2011.
In late April 2009, Biden's off-message response to a question during the beginning of the swine flu outbreak, that he would advise family members against traveling on airplanes or subways, led to a swift retraction by the White House. The remark revived Biden's reputation for gaffes. Confronted with rising unemployment through July 2009, Biden acknowledged that the administration had "misread how bad the economy was" but maintained confidence the stimulus package would create many more jobs once the pace of expenditures picked up. On March 23, 2010, a microphone picked up Biden telling the president that his signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was "a big fucking deal" during live national news telecasts. Despite their different personalities, Obama and Biden formed a friendship, partly based around Obama's daughter Sasha and Biden's granddaughter Maisy, who attended Sidwell Friends School together.
Members of the Obama administration said Biden's role in the White House was to be a contrarian and force others to defend their positions.Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, said that Biden helped counter groupthink. White House press secretary Jay Carney, Biden's former communications director, said Biden played the role of "the bad guy in the Situation Room". Another senior Obama advisor said Biden "is always prepared to be the skunk at the family picnic to make sure we are as intellectually honest as possible." Obama said, "The best thing about Joe is that when we get everybody together, he really forces people to think and defend their positions, to look at things from every angle, and that is very valuable for me." The Bidens maintained a relaxed atmosphere at their official residence in Washington, often entertaining their grandchildren, and regularly returned to their home in Delaware.
In March 2011, Obama delegated Biden to lead negotiations with Congress to resolve federal spending levels for the rest of the year and avoid a government shutdown. By May 2011, a "Biden panel" with six congressional members was trying to reach a bipartisan deal on raising the U.S. debt ceiling as part of an overall deficit reduction plan. The U.S. debt ceiling crisis developed over the next few months, but Biden's relationship with McConnell again proved key in breaking a deadlock and bringing about a deal to resolve it, in the form of the Budget Control Act of 2011, signed on August 2, 2011, the same day an unprecedented U.S. default had loomed. Biden had spent the most time of anyone in the administration bargaining with Congress on the debt question, and one Republican staffer said, "Biden's the only guy with real negotiating authority, and [McConnell] knows that his word is good. He was a key to the deal."
In October 2010, Biden said Obama had asked him to remain as his running mate for the 2012 presidential election, but with Obama's popularity on the decline, White House Chief of StaffWilliam M. Daley conducted some secret polling and focus group research in late 2011 on the idea of replacing Biden on the ticket with Hillary Clinton. The notion was dropped when the results showed no appreciable improvement for Obama, and White House officials later said Obama himself had never entertained the idea.
Biden and Obama, July 2012
Biden's May 2012 statement that he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage gained considerable public attention in comparison to Obama's position, which had been described as "evolving". Biden made his statement without administration consent, and Obama and his aides were quite irked, since Obama had planned to shift position several months later, in the build-up to the party convention. Gay rights advocates seized upon Biden's statement, and within days, Obama announced that he too supported same-sex marriage, an action in part forced by Biden's remarks. Biden apologized to Obama in private for having spoken out, while Obama acknowledged publicly it had been done from the heart.
The Obama campaign valued Biden as a retail-level politician, and he had a heavy schedule of appearances in swing states as the reelection campaign began in earnest in spring 2012. An August 2012 remark before a mixed-race audience that Republican proposals to relax Wall Street regulations would "put y'all back in chains" drew attention to Biden. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "During any Biden speech, there might be a dozen moments to make press handlers cringe, and prompt reporters to turn to each other with amusement and confusion."
Biden favored arming Syria's rebel fighters. As Iraq fell apart during 2014, renewed attention was paid to the Biden-Gelb Iraqi federalization plan of 2006, with some observers suggesting Biden had been right all along. Biden himself said the U.S. would follow ISIL "to the gates of hell". Biden had close relationships with several Latin American leaders and was assigned a focus on the region during the administration; he visited the region 16 times during his vice presidency, the most of any president or vice president.
Biden with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on November 10, 2016
Role in the 2016 presidential campaign
During his second term, Biden was often said to be preparing for a possible bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. With his family, many friends, and donors encouraging him in mid-2015 to enter the race, and with Hillary Clinton's favorability ratings in decline at that time, Biden was reported to again be seriously considering the prospect and a "Draft Biden 2016" PAC was established.
As of September 11, 2015[update], Biden was still uncertain about running. He felt his son's recent death had largely drained his emotional energy, and said, "nobody has a right... to seek that office unless they're willing to give it 110% of who they are." On October 21, speaking from a podium in the Rose Garden with his wife and Obama by his side, Biden announced his decision not to run for president in 2016. In January 2016, Biden affirmed that it was the right decision, but admitted to regretting not running for president "every day".
After Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton on June 9, 2016, Biden endorsed her later that day. Throughout the 2016 election, Biden strongly criticized Clinton's opponent, Donald Trump, in often colorful terms.
Biden remained in the public eye, endorsing candidates while continuing to comment on politics, climate change, and the presidency of Donald Trump. He also continued to speak out in favor of LGBT rights, continuing advocacy on an issue he had become more closely associated with during his vice presidency. In 2019, Biden criticized Brunei for its intention to implement Islamic laws that would allow death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality, calling it "appalling and immoral" and saying, "There is no excuse—not culture, not tradition—for this kind of hate and inhumanity." By 2019, Biden and his wife reported that their assets had increased to between $2.2 million and $8 million from speaking engagements and a contract to write a set of books.
Biden at his presidential kickoff rally in Philadelphia, May 2019
Between 2016 and 2019, media outlets often mentioned Biden as a likely candidate for president in 2020. When asked if he would run, he gave varied and ambivalent answers, saying "never say never". At one point he suggested he did not see a scenario where he would run again, but a few days later, he said, "I'll run if I can walk." A political action committee known as Time for Biden was formed in January 2018, seeking Biden's entry into the race. He finally launched his campaign on April 25, 2019, saying he was prompted to run, among other reasons, by his "sense of duty."
Beginning in 2019, Trump and his allies falsely accused Biden of getting the Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin fired because he was supposedly pursuing an investigation into Burisma Holdings, which employed Hunter Biden. Biden was accused of withholding $1billion in aid from Ukraine in this effort. In 2015, Biden pressured the Ukrainian parliament to remove Shokin because the United States, the European Union and other international organizations considered Shokin corrupt and ineffective, and in particular because Shokin was not assertively investigating Burisma. The withholding of the $1billion in aid was part of this official policy. The Senate Homeland Security Committee and Senate Finance Committee, led by Republicans, investigated allegations of wrongdoing by the Bidens in Ukraine, ultimately releasing a report in September 2020 that detailed no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden, and concluded that it was "not clear" whether Hunter Biden's role in Burisma "affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine".
In March 2019 and April 2019, Biden was accused by eight women of previous instances of inappropriate physical contact, such as embracing, touching or kissing. Biden had previously described himself as a "tactile politician" and admitted this behavior has caused trouble for him. In April 2019, Biden pledged to be more "respectful of people's personal space".
Throughout 2019, Biden stayed generally ahead of other Democrats in national polls. Despite this, he finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses, and eight days later, fifth in the New Hampshire primary. He performed better in the Nevada caucuses, reaching the 15% required for delegates, but still was behind Bernie Sanders by 21.6 percentage points. Making strong appeals to Black voters on the campaign trail and in the South Carolina debate, Biden won the South Carolina primary by more than 28 points. After the withdrawals and subsequent endorsements of candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, he made large gains in the March3 Super Tuesday primary elections. Biden won 18 of the next 26 contests, including Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, putting him in the lead overall. Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg soon dropped out, and Biden expanded his lead with victories over Sanders in four states (Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri) on March 10.
In late March 2020, Tara Reade, one of the eight women who in 2019 had accused Biden of inappropriate physical contact, accused Biden of having sexually assaulted her in 1993. There were inconsistencies between Reade's 2019 and 2020 allegations. Biden and his campaign denied the sexual assault allegation.
When Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8, 2020, Biden became the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for president. On April 13, Sanders endorsed Biden in a live-streamed discussion from their homes. Former President Barack Obama endorsed Biden the next day. In March 2020, Biden committed to choosing a woman as his running mate. In June, Biden met the 1,991-delegate threshold needed to secure the party's presidential nomination. On August 11, he announced U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate, making her the first African American and first South Asian American vice-presidential nominee on a major-party ticket.
Biden was elected the 46th president of the United States in November 2020. He defeated the incumbent, Donald Trump, becoming the first candidate to defeat a sitting president since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992. Trump refused to concede, insisting the election had been "stolen" from him through "voter fraud", challenging the results in court and promoting numerous conspiracy theories about the voting and vote-counting processes, in an attempt to overturn the election results. Biden's transition was delayed by several weeks as the White House ordered federal agencies not to cooperate. On November23, General Services AdministratorEmily W. Murphy formally recognized Biden as the apparent winner of the 2020 election and authorized the start of a transition process to the Biden administration.
On January 6, 2021, during Congress' electoral vote count, Trump told supporters gathered in front of the White House to march to the Capitol, saying, "We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved." Soon after, they attacked the Capitol. During the insurrection at the Capitol, Biden addressed the nation, calling the events "an unprecedented assault unlike anything we've seen in modern times." He specifically called on Trump to "go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege", adding, "it must end now." After the Capitol was cleared, Congress resumed its joint session and officially certified the election results with Pence declaring Biden and Harris the winners.
Biden's inauguration was "a muted affair unlike any previous inauguration" due to COVID-19 precautions as well as massively increased security measures because of a threat of widespread civil unrest. Biden took the oath of office on the Capitol's west steps and gave an inaugural address, but there were no spectators on the Mall and no in-person parades or inaugural balls. Trump did not attend, becoming the first outgoing president since 1869 to not attend his successor's inauguration.
On February 4, 2021, the Biden administration announced that the United States was ending its support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. In his first visit to the State Department as president, Biden said "this war has to end" and that the conflict had created a "humanitarian and strategic catastrophe." On February 25, the Biden administration "struck a site in Syria used by two Iranian-backed militia groups in response to rocket attacks on American forces." This marked the first known action by the military under Biden.
Also in March, amid a rise in migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico, Biden told migrants, "Don't come over." He said that the U.S. was arranging a plan for migrants to "apply for asylum in place", without leaving their original locations. In the meantime, migrant adults "are being sent back", Biden said, in reference to the continuation of the Trump administration's Title 42 policy for quick deportations. Biden earlier announced that his administration would not deport unaccompanied migrant children; the rise in arrivals of such children exceeded the capacity of facilities meant to shelter them (before they were sent to sponsors), leading the Biden administration in March to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help manage these children.
By the end of 2021, 40 of Biden's appointed judges to the federal judiciary had been confirmed, more than any president in their first year in office since Ronald Reagan. Biden has prioritized diversity in his judicial appointments more than any president in U.S. history, with the majority of appointments being women and people of color. Most of his appointments have been in blue states, making a limited impact since the courts in these states already traditionally lean liberal.
In the first eight months of his presidency, Biden's approval rating, according to Morning Consult polling, remained above 50%. In August, it began to decline and lowered into the low forties by December. The decline in his approval is attributed to the Afghanistan withdrawal, increasing hospitalizations from the Delta variant, high inflation and gas prices, disarray within the Democratic Party, and a general decline in popularity customary in politics.
American forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2020, under the provisions of a February 2020 US-Taliban agreement that set a May 1, 2021, deadline. By April 2021, the State Department was urging American civilians in Afghanistan to leave as soon as possible. The Taliban began an offensive on May 1. As late as July, American intelligence assessments estimated Kabul would fall to the Taliban months or weeks after the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. By early July, most American troops in Afghanistan had withdrawn. Biden addressed the withdrawal in July, saying, "The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely."
On August 15, the Afghan government collapsed under the Taliban offensive, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. Biden reacted by ordering 6,000 American troops to assist in the evacuation of American personnel and Afghan allies. He faced bipartisan criticism for the manner of the withdrawal, with the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies described as chaotic and botched, and for his silence and absence during the days before the Afghan government collapsed.
On August 16, Biden addressed the "messy" situation, taking responsibility for it, and admitting that the situation "unfolded more quickly than we had anticipated". He defended his decision to withdraw, saying that Americans should not be "dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves," and blamed his predecessor Donald Trump, the Afghan president, and Afghan security forces for the speedy collapse.
On August 22, Biden said that his administration knew that ISIS-K was a "likely source" of threat. On August 26, a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. service members and 169 Afghans. Biden declared to the attackers that the United States "will hunt you down and make you pay". On August 27, an American drone strike killed two ISIS-K targets, who were "planners and facilitators", according to a U.S. Army general. On August 29, another American drone strike killed 10 civilians, including seven children; the Defense Department initially claimed the strike was conducted on an Islamic State suicide bomber threatening Kabul Airport, but admitted the mistake on September 17 and apologized.
The U.S. military left Afghanistan on August 30, with Biden saying that the evacuation effort was an "extraordinary success", by extracting over 120,000 Americans, Afghans and other allies. He acknowledged that between "100 to 200" Americans who wanted to leave were left in Afghanistan, despite his August 18 pledge to stay in Afghanistan until all Americans who wanted to leave had left. The Biden administration, joining governments of almost 100 countries, said that the Taliban had given "assurances" that anyone "with travel authorization from [these] countries" would continue to be allowed to leave Afghanistan.
Biden entered office nine months into a recovery from the COVID-19 recession and his first year in office was characterized by robust growth in real GDP, employment, wages and stock market returns, amid significantly elevated inflation. Real GDP grew 5.7%, the fastest rate in 37 years. Amid record job creation, the unemployment rate fell at the fastest pace on record during the year. By the end of 2021, inflation reached a nearly 40-year high of 7.1%, which was partially offset by the highest wage and salary growth in at least 20 years. Income growth was particularly strong at the low end of the pay scale.
As part of Biden's Build Back Better agenda, in late March 2021, he proposed the American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion package addressing issues including transport infrastructure, utilities infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, housing, schools, manufacturing, research and workforce development. After months of negotiations among Biden and lawmakers, in August 2021 the Senate passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, while the House, also in a bipartisan manner, approved that bill in early November 2021, covering infrastructure related to transport, utilities, and broadband. Biden signed the bill into law in mid-November 2021.
In January, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a moderate liberal nominated by Bill Clinton, announced his intention to retire from the Supreme Court. During his 2020 campaign, Biden vowed to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court if a vacancy occurred, a promise he reiterated after the announcement of Breyer's retirement. In February, Biden nominated federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed her on April 7.
Also in February, after warning for several weeks that an attack was imminent, Biden led the U.S. response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, imposing severe sanctions on Russia and authorizing over $1 billion in weapons shipments to Ukraine. On April 29, Biden asked Congress for $33 billion for Ukraine, but lawmakers later increased it to about $40 billion. Biden blamed Vladimir Putin for the emerging energy and food crises, saying, "Putin's war has raised the price of food because Ukraine and Russia are two of the world's major bread baskets for wheat and corn, the basic product for so many foods around the world." During his May meeting with the Quad, Biden characterized Putin's actions as aiming to extinguish a culture by obliterating schools, churches and museums. In his commencement address to the 2022 United States Naval Academy class, he said, "Not only is [Putin] trying to take over Ukraine, he’s literally trying to wipe out the culture and identity of the Ukrainian people. Attacking schools, nurseries, hospitals, museums, with no other purpose than to eliminate a culture." Biden added that Putin tried to "Finland-ize" Europe but "instead he Nato-ized all of Europe", a clear reference to the recent NATO accession bids of Sweden and Finland.
Biden has said the U.S. needs to "get tough" on China and build "a united front of U.S. allies and partners to confront China's abusive behaviors and human rights violations". He has called China the "most serious competitor" that poses challenges to the United States' "prosperity, security, and democratic values". Biden has voiced concerns about China's "coercive and unfair" economic practices and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region to the Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. He also pledged to sanction and commercially restrict Chinese government officials and entities who carry out repression.
Biden was consistently ranked one of the least wealthy members of the Senate, which he attributed to his having been elected young. Feeling that less-wealthy public officials may be tempted to accept contributions in exchange for political favors, he proposed campaign finance reform measures during his first term. As of November 2009[update], Biden's net worth was $27,012. By November 2020[update], the Bidens were worth $9 million, largely due to sales of Biden's books and speaking fees after his vice presidency.
The political writer Howard Fineman has written, "Biden is not an academic, he's not a theoretical thinker, he's a great street pol. He comes from a long line of working people in Scranton—auto salesmen, car dealers, people who know how to make a sale. He has that great Irish gift." Political columnist David S. Broder wrote that Biden has grown over time: "He responds to real people—that's been consistent throughout. And his ability to understand himself and deal with other politicians has gotten much much better." Journalist James Traub has written that "Biden is the kind of fundamentally happy person who can be as generous toward others as he is to himself."
In recent years, especially after the 2015 death of his elder son Beau, Biden has been noted for his empathetic nature and ability to communicate about grief. In 2020, CNN wrote that his presidential campaign aimed to make him "healer-in-chief", while The New York Times described his extensive history of being called upon to give eulogies.
Journalist and TV anchor Wolf Blitzer has described Biden as loquacious. He often deviates from prepared remarks and sometimes "puts his foot in his mouth."The New York Times wrote that Biden's "weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything." In 2018, Biden called himself "a gaffe machine". Some of his gaffes have been characterized as racially insensitive.
Biden, Joseph R., Jr.; Helms, Jesse (April 1, 2000). Hague Convention on International Child Abduction: Applicable Law and Institutional Framework Within Certain Convention Countries Report to the Senate. Diane Publishing. ISBN978-0-7567-2250-0.
Biden, Joseph R., Jr., and Miga Purev-Ochir (Spring 2015). "U.S.-Russian Relations in a Post-Cold War World: A Strategic Vision: Mapping a Future for U.S.-Russian Relations." Harvard International Review, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 72–76. JSTOR43649299.
^Biden held the chairmanship from January 3 to 20, then was succeeded by Jesse Helms until June 6, and thereafter held the position until 2003.
^Crowley, Michael (September 24, 2009). "Hawk Down". The New Republic. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2021. Even before Obama announced his run for president, Biden was warning that Afghanistan, not Iraq, was the 'central front' in the war against Al Qaeda, requiring a major U.S. commitment. 'Whatever it takes, we should do it,' Biden said in February 2002.
^Hayes, Dianne (2012). "Looking The Other Way?". Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.
^Elaine Grant (April 5, 2011). "Federal Effort Targets Sexual Assaults At Colleges". NPR. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2019. BIDEN: Look, guys, no matter what a girl does, no matter how she's dressed, no matter how much she's had to drink, it's never, never, never, never, never OK to touch her without her consent.
^Schow, Ashe (April 4, 2019). "Biden Reaps the #MeToo Whirlwind". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2019. While speaking to students at the University of New Hampshire in 2011, then-Vice President Joe Biden told men in the audience that 'no matter what a girl does, no matter how she's dressed, no matter how much she's had to drink—it's never, never, never, never, never OK to touch her without her consent.'
^In March 2016 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, former ambassador to Ukraine John E. Herbst said, "By late fall of 2015, the EU and the United States joined the chorus of those seeking Mr. Shokin's removal" and that Joe Biden "spoke publicly about this before and during his December visit to Kyiv." During the same hearing, assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland said, "We have pegged our next $1billion loan guarantee, first and foremost, to having a rebooting of the reform coalition so that we know who we are working with, but secondarily, to ensuring that the prosecutor general's office gets cleaned up.""Ukrainian Reforms Two Years After the Maidan Revolution and the Russian Invasion"(PDF). U.S. Government Publishing Office. March 15, 2016. Archived(PDF) from the original on November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
^McKelvey, Tara; Deng, Boer (2021). "Biden's week of blame and tumult after Kabul fall". BBC News. BBC. Archived from the original on August 27, 2021. Retrieved June 18, 2022. History is going to judge us very harshly, I believe, if we allow the hope of a liberated Afghanistan to evaporate because we are fearful of the phrase nation-building or we do not stay the course