Joe Biden

Published On: Sep 24 2012 12:58:44 PM PDT   Updated On: Sep 24 2012 12:13:00 AM PDT

Vice President Joe Biden, interested in foreign policy and known for his outspokenness, was born in Scranton, Penn., on Nov. 20, 1942, to Joseph Biden Sr. and Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan. His family moved to Delaware in 1953. 

Biden graduated from the University of Delaware, where he played football, and then Syracuse Law School. During a college spring break trip, he met Syracuse University student Neilia Hunter, whom he married during his law school years. After his law school graduation, Biden practiced law in Wilmington, Del. He and Neilia had three children together -- Joseph “Beau” Biden III (later to become Delaware’s attorney general), Hunter and Naomi – and Biden served on the New Castle County Council. At the age of just 29, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Before he was sworn in, though, his family was horrifically upended by a car accident involving his wife and their children. Neilia and 1-year-old Naomi were killed, and Beau and Hunter were injured. It was at the hospital that Biden was sworn in to the Senate. 

Biden later married Jill Jacobs, in 1977, and together they had daughter Ashley.

During his 36-year Senate career, Biden famously commuted daily by train from Delaware to Washington, D.C. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he presided over confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. Biden also chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for some years.

Biden has twice run for president. His first primary bid, in 1987, ended when he withdrew amid a flap that erupted after he echoed a British politician’s words without attribution at a debate. In 2008, in a primary battle dominated by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, he dropped out after faring poorly at the Iowa caucuses. Some months later, Obama chose Biden as his running mate. They ultimately beat the Republican ticket’s John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Biden has often served as Obama’s emissary to senators and congressmen. For instance, he worked on senators to help the president gain narrow passage of the New Start treaty, an arms control agreement with Russia, in late 2010.

Biden voted to authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but The New York Times has since described the vice president as “Obama’s in-house pessimist on Afghanistan” and an advocate against further escalating U.S. troops there.