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Meet US President-elect Joe Biden, the ‘scrappy kid from Scranton’

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Nov 07, 2020 12:24 pm Updated Nov 07, 2020 9:57 pm

Democratic candidate Joe Biden is elected the 46th president of the United States after securing more than the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win against incumbent President Donald Trump.

In one of the country's tightest races in history, he defeated Trump in key swing states Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania in the election held on Nov. 3.

Biden and his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

As the world is watching the end of a dramatic presidential election and waits for the Democratic president and vice president to give their victory speeches, here's a glimpse of his story.

Who is Joe Biden?

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. is a former senator and vice president who comes from humble beginnings.

He was born on Nov. 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His father, Joseph Biden Sr., was a salesman of used cars. His mother is Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan.

Wanting to find better jobs, the Biden family moved to Claymont, Delaware when he was 10 years old. As a child, Biden struggled with a stutter and was often bullied by bigger kids. He drew strength from his father who would say, “Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up,” and his mother who would tell him, “Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day!”

Biden (right) with his younger siblings Valerie and James Brian. Photo courtesy of Biden family.

He studied at St. Helena School before he attended high school at the Archmere Academy. As the eldest of three siblings, he helped his parents pay his tuition by washing the school’s windows and weeding out the garden. He worked hard on his academics and at the same time excelled in football. His coach remembered, “He was a skinny kid, but he was one of the best pass receivers I had in 16 years as a coach.”

Biden went on to take double majors in history and political science at the University of Delaware, where his interest in political reform also began.

“During my adolescent and college years, men and women were changing the world—Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy—and was swept up in their eloquence, their conviction, the sheer size of their improbable dreams," Biden wrote on his website.

In his third year in college, Biden met Syracuse University student Neila Hunter, whom he admitted falling in love with at first sight. Driven by his new love, he entered Syracuse University Law School after graduating from Delaware in 1965. The couple got married the following year.

Biden as senator in 1994. Photo from @joebiden on Instagram
Six-term Senator

Biden graduated from law school in 1968. Shortly afterward, he began working as an attorney at a law firm in Wilmington and became an active member of the Democratic Party. He was elected to the New Castle County Council in 1971.

Biden ran for a seat in the Senate in 1972. At 29 years old, he became the fifth-youngest senator in the US. But just when he was about to ride high on his career, tragedy struck the Biden family. In December of that year, his wife Neila and their daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident. His two sons Beau and Robert were severely injured.

The accident devastated Biden. The young senator bounced back eventually, focusing on the well-being of his two sons and his commitment to representing the people of Delaware in the Senate. 

It also helped that he found love the second time around in high school teacher Jill Jacobs. They tied the knot in New York City in 1977. Three years later, she gave birth to their only child Ashley Blazer.

Biden became Delaware’s longest-serving senator, running a total of six terms until 2009. He spent his decades-long tenure in the senate as the leader on nuclear arms control, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs from 2001 to 2003, and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years. 

He authored bills such as the Global Climate Protection Act before climate change was a mainstream issue and the Violence Against Women Act when gender-based violence still wasn’t considered an alarming problem worldwide. He also sponsored the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which, according to his website, added “100,000 police officers and increased sentences for a host of crimes” in the US.

He ran for the US presidency in 1987 but dropped out the next year to have his two life-threatening brain aneurysms treated. He ran for another presidential bid in 2007 but retreated after receiving less than one percent of the vote in the crucial Iowa caucuses.

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I remember when we had a president our children could look up to.

A post shared by Joe Biden (@joebiden) on

The 47th US Vice President 

Months after Biden dropped out of candidacy, Barack Obama selected him to be his running mate. They both took their oaths as the 44th President and 47th Vice President of America on Jan. 20, 2009.

As Vice President, Biden led interagency efforts to raise the living standards of the middle-class, reduce gun violence, address violence against women, and to help end cancer, according to his website.

Along with Obama, Biden secured the passing of healthcare reform law Affordable Care Act, and the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which “creates and saves millions of jobs in America.”  

The death of Biden’s son Beau from brain cancer led him to spearhead a project that Obama called “Cancer Moonshot,” which aimed at making “decades-worth of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in five years.”

In January 2017, Obama awarded Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the country’s highest civilian honor.

President-elect Biden pledges to fight for the "soul" of America. Photo from @joebiden on Instagram.
The 46th President of the United States

Now that he’s president-elect of the United States, the 77-year-old Biden has said he will prioritize healthcare which, according to his previous TV ad, has become “personal” to him because of the tragedies that his family went through.

He plans to expand the public health insurance scheme passed during Obama's presidency and pledged to fight the pandemic based on advice both from health care and economic experts. He aims to make COVID-19 tests and eventual vaccines broadly accessible and free alongside. 

In his first 100 days in office, Biden promises to undo Trump's unjust immigrant policies, which includes the separation of Mexican parents from their kids at the US-Mexican border, and life the travel ban on Muslim countries.

He vows to address climate change by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, which commits the US to cut greenhouse gases up to 28 percent by 2025.

The President also committed to providing affordable education to the youth during a town hall in Miami. "I’m going to eliminate your student debt if you come from a family [making less] than $125,000 and went to a public university," he said, “I’m going to make sure everyone gets $10,000 knocked off of their student debt."

Additionally, Biden vows to “build on the Obama legacy” and defend the nation’s role as a global leader