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Joe Biden wins US election 2020: profile and career of the new president

Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States. We take a look back on his political past before making his way to the White House.

Joe Biden wins US election 2020: profile and career of the new president
TASOS KATOPODIS AFP

Joe Biden, newly-elected president of the United States attended the University of Delaware, where he studied history and political science. During these early years he developed a strong interest in politics and was inspired by the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961.

After graduating from law school in 1968, Biden moved to Wilmington, Delaware, to begin practicing at a law firm. He also became an active member of the Democratic Party, and in 1970 was elected to the New Castle County Council. While serving as councilman, in 1971, Biden set up his own law firm.

Elected to the Senate

In 1972, aged just 29, he defeated Republican Senator J. Caleb Boggs, to become the fifth-youngest person ever elected to the US Senate. The Delaware Democratic Party encouraged an inexperienced Biden to run against Republican Boggs. Biden ran a campaign organised mostly by family members. His sister, Valerie Biden Owens, served as his campaign manager, and both of his parents. 

Biden served a distinguished Senate career from 1973 to 2009. During his time in the Senate, he won respect as one of the body's leading foreign policy experts, serving as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations for several years. In recent years, he spoke out against President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq War, opposing the troop surge of 2007. In 2019, he faced allegations from former staffer Tara Reade , who said she felt uncomfortable with Mr Biden during her time in his Senate office in the 90s. In March 2020, she also accused him of a sexual assault in 1993. Biden and his campaign team have strongly denied the allegation.

In 1994, Biden sponsored the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act to add 100,000 police officers and increase sentences for a host of crimes. Biden had been suffering severe headaches during the campaign, and shortly after he dropped out in 1988, doctors discovered that he had two life-threatening brain aneurysms. Complications from the ensuing brain surgery led to blood clots in his lungs, which, in turn, caused him to undergo another surgery. Biden later returned to the Senate after seven months off. In 1987, having established himself as one of Washington's prominent Democratic lawmakers, Biden decided to run for US presidency.

Vice President

Described by Barack Obama as the "best vice president America ever had" during their tenure, Biden voiced support for LGBT rights, calling himself "absolutely comfortable" with the idea of same-sex marriage.

USA-ELECTION/BIDENFILE PHOTO: Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and his vice presidential running mate Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) share a laugh on stage during a campaign rally in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., September 28, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

In 2007, 20 years after his first unsuccessful presidential bid, Biden once again decided to run for the presidency. Despite his years of experience in the Senate, his campaign failed to generate much momentum in a field dominated by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Biden dropped out after receiving less than one percent of the vote in the crucial Iowa caucuses.

Several months later, Obama secured the Democratic nomination after a hard-fought campaign against Clinton, and Biden was selected as his running mate. Biden was crucial in the Obama campaign, helping communicate its message of economic recovery to the blue-collar voters in swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. On November 2, 2008, Obama and Biden defeated the Republican ticket of Arizona Senator John McCain and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. On January 20, 2009, Obama was sworn in as the 44th U.S. president and Biden became the 47th vice president.

While Biden mainly served in the role of behind-the-scenes adviser to Obama, he played active roles in formulating federal policies relating to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010, the vice president used his well-established Senate connections to help secure passage of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the US and the Russian Federation.

Re-election and second term

Running for re-election in 2012, the Obama-Biden team faced Republican challenger Mitt Romney and Romney's vice-presidential running mate, US Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Obama defeated Romney in the 2012 election, earning a second term as president and Biden another term as vice president. Biden showed how influential a vice president he could be in 2012. He was instrumental in achieving a bipartisan agreement on tax increases and spending cuts to avoid the fiscal cliff crisis. With a looming deadline, he struck a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On January 1, 2013, the fiscal cliff bill passed in the Senate after months of tough negotiations. The House of Representatives approved it on the same day.

Joe Biden also became a leading figure in the national gun control debate. He was selected to head up a special task force on the issue after the shooting in a Connecticut elementary school. Biden delivered solutions for reducing gun violence across the nation to Obama in January 2013.

Becoming President

On November 7, 2020, four days after election day, Biden was declared as the 46th president-elect after winning Pennsylvania, earning a record 74 million plus votes. "With full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and in each other, with a love of country — and a thirst for justice — let us be the nation that we know we can be," he tweeted.

In his victory speech, Biden said that if there was one word that defines America it is "possibility". "Everyone should be given an opportunity to go as far as their dreams. I believe in the possibilities of this country. It is never good to bet against America."

Biden finished his speech by saying that as he left his grandparents house when he was a kid, his grandfather would tell him to "keep the faith", but his grandmother would shout out to him: "No, spread the faith!"