Jo Biden’s political career has been a roller coaster ride right from its inception to its ultimate culmination into the coveted presidential win. His political life has been full of successes and setbacks. Unimaginable personal tragedies followed victories, and self-inflicted lesions crippled budding campaigns. Still, Biden survived around 36 years in Senate, served under the Obama administration for eight years, and finally became the ultimate political wing man and the country’s unofficial chief consoler. His third run for the White House turned out to be a dream that came true or rather his career’s most crucial turning point. He managed to pull off one of American political history’s most improbable comebacks ever. Now that he has been inaugurated as the oldest person at 78 years old, to be the 46th president of the United States, it becomes essential to get to know him a bit more closely. Here’s a quick overview of the little-known facts about Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.’s personal life and career so far.
He Had A Shaky Childhood
Joseph ‘Joe’ Biden Jr. is the eldest of four children born to Catherine Eugenia ‘Jean’ Finnegan and Joseph Sr. born on November 20, 1942 he spent most of his childhood in Scranton, Pennsylvania. However, his childhood wasn’t anything like a fairy tale because his father struggled to find a good and steady job. Moreover, he suffered a series of setbacks in his family business, which further affected Biden’s early days in Pennsylvania. At the age of ten, Joe’s family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, as his father sold Chevrolet cars at the local dealership. The Biden family lived in a three-bed, one-and-a-half-bath tract house. All three Biden boys had to share one bath bedroom with Edward Blewitt Finnegan, their uncle, whom they had nicknamed Boo Boo because he stuttered. The four of them had to pile into two sets of bunk beds to accommodate them in the tiny bedroom.
Believe it or not, the ever-so-eloquent Joe Biden had a debilitating stutter as a child. His schoolmates mockingly referred to him as Dash. They linked his staccato to Morse Code and Bye Bye for his attempt to pronounce his last name. Biden tried to avoid stuttering at his best ability. He used to play out conversations in his head in advance, practiced speech management while holding pebbles in his mouth, and even memorized paragraphs from his textbooks whenever he had to read them aloud in the class. This shows the immensely high level of perseverance, dedication, and self-awareness Biden had from a young age.
Biden Met His Future Wife During Junior Year
Joe Biden met Neilia Hunter during his junior year of college when he was on spring break in the Bahamas. He got smitten by her almost immediately. On their second date, Biden didn’t even have enough money to pay the restaurant bill. So, Neilia had to slip him a $20 note from under the table. Interestingly, when he met Neilia’s mother for the first time, she asked Biden what he wanted to do for a living. Biden told her that he intended to become the president of America.
Joe Biden and Neilia Hunter tied the know in 1966. In 1969, their son Beau was born, and after one year and one day, the couple had their second son Hunter. In an interview taken in 1970, Biden said that he was desperate to have a girl, but he didn’t want to keep trying for a little girl year after year as he didn’t want Neilia to go through it all repeatedly.
“I’m not a ‘keep ’em barefoot and pregnant’ man. But I am all for keeping them pregnant until I have a little girl. The only good thing in the world is kids.”
The very next year, his wish came true as their daughter Naomi was born. Biden loved his wife a lot. He often surprised her with unexpected gifts. In 1967, when Biden studied law at Syracuse University, he gifted Neilia a puppy named Senator. He is a very emotionally charged person and cherished his family. Even years later, he kept the wedding gift from his father close to him. It was a 1967 Corvette Stingray.
Biden Has Faced Many Devastating Tragedies
Biden lost his mother when she was 92, and his father died at the age of 86. But the biggest tragedy of his life occurred only a few weeks after he won the Senate seat. Until now, he was enjoying blissful family life with his wife and three children. One fateful day, his wife and children were driving home in their station wagon after Christmas shopping suddenly, a tractor-trailer carrying corncobs struck them.
Six weeks after my election, my whole world was altered forever. While I was in Washington hiring staff, I got a phone call. My wife and three children were Christmas shopping, a tractor-trailer broadsided them and killed my wife and killed my daughter. And they weren’t sure that my sons would live. Many people have gone through things like that. But because I had the incredible good fortune of an extended family, grounded in love and loyalty, imbued with a sense of obligation imparted to each of us, I not only got help. But by focusing on my sons, I found my redemption.Joe Biden’s for Draft ad
The accident was so devastating that Biden’s wife Neilia and their thirteen-month-old daughter Naomi died on the spot. His two sons Beau and Hunter were severely injured and were rushed to the hospital. Biden was sworn into the Senate in the hospital room where his son Beau was admitted. Another big blow for Biden was the death of his oldest son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.
People Questioned His Leadership Capabilities
Joe Biden spent his junior and senior years at a Catholic prep school called Archmere Academy. He was elected class president but felt dejected when school administration blocked him from running for student body presidency for receiving far too many demerits. But, he didn’t let this setback diminish his resolve to prove his leadership skills. In 1960, Biden became part of the academy’s football team and played wide receiver and halfback on its undefeated football team. Biden caught as many as 19 touchdown passes. While studying at the University of Delaware, he even got probation because of a prank in which he sprayed the director of the dorm with a fire extinguisher. The administration, perhaps, didn’t find this prank funny at all.
“The first time the phone rang and someone said, ‘You n—– lover, you want them living next to you?’ I was shocked. I said, ‘If you’re the alternative, I guess the answer is yes.'”
Biden served as a public defender in Delaware. Once, he defended a young, 25-year-old fisherman who was accused of stealing a prize-winning Holstein cow. He took up many such cases that many other lawyers refused. Biden revealed that he received racist phone calls for supporting public housing during the New Castle County Council campaign in 1970. Such calls shocked him to the core, but he quickly learned to deal with it as part and parcel of his profession. After all, he couldn’t keep everyone happy all the time.
Biden had A Different Approach to Politics
Joe Biden was drafted after he finished law school. Since he had asthma, he failed the physical test. It was when the Vietnam War was the hottest national issue, and protests were being organized across the country. Sometime later, when he was asked why he didn’t join the anti-Vietnam War protests, he said that he had a rather peculiar approach towards resolving an issue. He wanted to take some concrete steps that would serve some purpose.
“I’m not big on flak jackets and tie-dye shirts. Other people marched. I ran for office, got elected to the United States Senate at 29, and came down here and was one of those votes that helped stop the war.”Joe Biden
Clearly, Biden aimed at a larger goal and wanted to be in a position where his views, opinions, and efforts mattered and helped bring about change in society.
The Fifth Youngest Senator in US Political History
At just 29 years of age, Biden became a Senator in 1972. He defeated Senator Cale Boggs, an incumbent Republican, to become the 5th youngest person ever elected to the Senate. Let’s suppose if he had gotten elected in November that year, the now 77-year-old Biden would be the oldest president of the US.
His Life as a Senator was tough. After the unfortunate incident, Biden remained in his Wilmington, Delaware home and used to take the 75-minute Amtrak train to-and-from Washington daily. He followed this routine for over 30 years. He was a dedicated Senator, but he was equally attached to his family home and couldn’t leave the town where he had spent the best and worst phases of his life all of a sudden. He was such a regular commuter that the Amtrak crew considered him family. He even hosted barbecues for attendants and conductors at his residence.
Biden Boasted to be the “Top Five Most Conservative Democrat”
Joe Biden’s perspective on various national and international issues often fluctuated between liberal and conservative. Such as when it came to issues with abortion, he said in an interview in 1974 that his approach was just as liberal as his grandmother.
“When it comes to issues like abortion … I’m about as liberal as your grandmother. I don’t like the [Roe v. Wade] decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”Joe Biden
In 1981, he even voted for a constitutional amendment to allow states to overturn Roe V. Wade decision. While in the 1970s, he was one of the biggest opposer of court-ordered school busing because he believed that this wasn’t a suitable method of desegregating public schools. He did favor other segregating initiatives from the government, such as in housing. But, he was all for voluntary busing. However, today, his approach is much more liberal, and as far as abortion is concerned, he has reversed his position.
Biden Supported Segregation and Friends With a Former KKK Leader
Many people do not know that Joe Biden belongs in what is called the Dixiecrates. His seen here campaigning in West Virginia for Barak Obama/Biden ticket for the Barak’s first term presidential nomination.
Biden Met His Second Wife on a Blind Date
In 1977, Joe Biden remarried. His second wife, Jill Tracy Jacobs, was an English teacher. The two met on a blind date, which his brother had arranged. According to Jill, Joe Biden is very kind-hearted, and there is a softer side to his personality, which many don’t know about. He even helped John McCain find his wife, now widowed Cindy McCain.
Joe Biden and John McCain both were close friends from when they were the Navy’s liaison to the Senate. In 1979, Biden and his wife Jill were with McCain at a Navy reception in Hawaii. They urged him to go over and talk to Cindy. The two later got married. The friendship between McCain and Biden was so strong that he requested Biden to deliver a eulogy at his funeral in 2018.
Biden Often Makes False Claims
Joe Biden lied about attending Delaware State University (DSU) and The Delaware State University has come out and said he was never a student.
I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors – I said ‘three’ and should have said ‘two.’
”With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department…My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.Joe Biden
Joe Biden as a law student plagiarized a paper for a law review journal and got caught. He begged the school administration not to expelled him from law school. This surfaced during this 1988 run for the presidential campaign.
My intent was not to deceive anyone for if it were, I would not have been so blatant.Joe Biden
When in fact, Mr. Biden just received a single Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and Political Science.
Gaffe Machine Biden
Joe Biden referred to himself as a Gaffe Machine as he often gets caught in an awkward situation. In 1984, while serving as a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden led efforts to block the then Alabama US Attorney Jeff Sessions from acquiring a federal judgeship. Biden accused Jeff Sessions of racism, but Sessions denied these accusations. He also falsely said that he got shot in Iraq and later had to issue a clarification stating that what he actually meant was that he was “near where a shot landed.” He claimed that as the Vice President, he met the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors while in reality, the shooting happened after he left office. On another occasion, he said that he got arrested when trying to visit Nelson Mandela in South Africa but later told the press that he was only detained.
Throughout the 1980s, Joe Biden repeatedly claimed that he “marched in the Civil Rights movement” and that his political awakening was galvanized by “Bull Connor and his dogs.” However, there is no evidence that Biden joined the Civil Rights marches during the time. However, there is proof that in the 1960s, he participated in a picket outside downtown Wilmington’s segregated movie theatre Rialto. In 1987, when Biden was running for the presidency for the first time, he had to quit the race after it was reported that he incorporated parts of a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock and even falsely referred to his ancestors as workers in the coal mines.
A Great Strategist
In 1987 when Biden was the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, he led the opposition to a federal judge’s nomination and a conservative legal scholar Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Biden’s great strategizing skills helped him achieve his goal of failing Bork’s nomination in the Senate. His strategy was that he allowed Bork enough time to express his view and brought up questions in a relatable language to bait Bork into voicing his politically controversial views in dense legalese. Resultantly, his nomination failed by 42-58. Historians believe that this moment marked the start of a new era of political wars for the judiciary branch.
He Owns His Mistakes
Biden went through various ups and downs in his career and even experienced many personal tragedies and health issues. However, using his firm resolve and decision-making abilities, he dealt with all kinds of crises. In February 1988, Biden had to undergo brain aneurysm surgery after facing continuous and never-ending bouts of headache. Three months later, he underwent his second brain aneurysm surgery. But he was quickly back to work and took many crucial decisions right after his surgery.
In October 1991, while serving as the Judiciary Committee chairman, he presided over President George Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas’ confirmation. Anita Hill, a young African-American law professor, testified that Clarence sexually harassed her. Still, an all-white committee headed by Biden grilled her to reveal graphic details of the incident.
“To this day, I regret I couldn’t give her the kind of hearing she deserved. I wish I could have done something.”Joe Biden on the Anita Hill hearing
Moreover, Biden decided not to call other women who were willing to testify as witnesses. At the time, many women had provided statements to corroborate Hill’s testimony. Still, Senate-confirmed Thomas in a 52-48 vote. It was one of the most perplexing decisions of Biden’s political career. 28 years later, in 2019, when Biden was running for the presidency, he expressed regret over his conduct and privately apologized to Hill. However, she didn’t accept his apology. Biden stated that:
Biden is Anti-War, Non-Violent and Voted Against Vietnamese Refugee
In 1991, Joe Biden and most of the Senate Democrats didn’t favor using force to expel Iraq out of Kuwait and voted against it. This shows, unlike many pro-war politicians, Biden has anti-war sentiments. He also disapproved of the Vietnam war. In 1993, when he was touring the Balkans, he met with Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and didn’t hesitate in calling him a “damned war criminal” on his face. Others present at the meeting claim that he used this phrase rather diplomatically. In 2002, Biden voted in favor of the Iraq War. He was a part of President George W. Bush’s administration at the time and was at the White House when the resolution for authorizing use of force against Iraq was signed. However, later, he called his vote a mistake.
The United States has no obligation to evacuate one — or 100,001 — South Vietnamese… We should focus on getting [U.S. troops] out. Getting the Vietnamese out and military aid for the [South Vietnam’s government] are totally different… will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out. I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out.Joe Biden, 1975
Biden Wrote Several Acts
Biden was an apt and skilled lawmaker. While serving as Delaware Senator, he wrote the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that made federal sentences stricter. However, many lawmakers today criticize this act for incarcerating black and brown Americans disproportionately. Nevertheless, back then, it received much appreciation. Moreover, Biden co-sponsored the Violence Against Women Act, also written in 1994. He co-wrote it with Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. The law was later incorporated into a crime bill. It provided $1.6 billion for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women and imposed automatic and compulsory restitution on the convicted individuals. This act gave victims the right to sue their attackers in civil court if prosecutors didn’t proceed with it in criminal court.
Biden was known for his anti-busing’s letters to some of the most segregationist Senators:
March 25,1977: My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court-ordered busing. It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate, I believe there is a growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing.
June 30, 1977: Dear Mr. Chairman, I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote.
July 14, 1977: Again, to thank you again for your efforts in support of my bill to limit court ordered busing.
August, 22, 1978: I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,” Biden wrote on Aug. 22, 1978. “Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.Joe Biden
Biden Is Known For His Rambling Speeches
Biden never hesitates from voicing his opinion no matter how badly it may affect him. On Capitol Hill, he was famous for his off-the-cuff remarks and long-winded, rambling speeches. Once, the then-Senator Barack Obama reportedly wrote a note to one of his aides that read, “Shoot. Me. Now,” after listening to one of his lengthy speeches in Senate.
Biden Believes Smoking and Drinking are Crutch Behaviors
Believe it or not, Biden neither drinks alcohol nor smokes. He refers to these behaviors as a Crutch. Biden once said in a 1970 interview that: “I use football as a crutch, and motorcycle jumping and skiing … but those are crutches over which I have some control.” At the controversial Beer Summit in 2009, held at the White House, Biden drank a Buckler, but it was a non-alcoholic drink.
Biden Shared a Strange Relationship with Obama
Interestingly, in 2008, Biden dropped out of the presidential run for a second time after being ranked fifth in the Iowa caucus. Around seven months later, Obama selected him as his running mate. In 2012, Biden infuriated the then-president Barack Obama after he publicly declared his support for gay marriages when Obama’s re-election campaign was ramping up. Later in 2014, when Russia had annexed Crimea, previously a part of Ukraine, the then-Vice President Joe Biden was nominated as Obama administration’s “highest-ranking emissary” to Eastern European countries like Ukraine.
Biden is the Biggest Supporter of His Son Hunter
In May 2014, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s youngest son, joined the Burisma board with no experience whatsoever, a Ukrainian energy firm whose owner was being investigated for corruption charges. Hunter received a monthly compensation of around $50,000 during his 5-year tenure. In December 2015, Vice President Biden was one of those Western leaders who called for the ouster of Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, over allegations that he couldn’t root out corruption from the country. In an interview in 2019, Biden openly stated that his son didn’t do anything wrong. “My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.”
Biden Voluntarily Opted Out of 2016 Presidential Run
By 2014, Joe Biden had already solidified his position as a reliable and influential politician. He was listed as one of the country’s least wealthy government officials, ranking 577 out of 581. But, his political stature was at par with the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He wanted to run for the presidency in 2016. However, Obama persuaded him to opt-out because he believed Hillary Clinton was in a better position to defeat the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
More ‘Interesting’ Trivia About Joe Biden
- Biden and his second wife, Jill, made over $15 million in 2017 and 2018.
- Biden’s favorite movie is Chariots of Fire.
- He is an ice cream lover.
- He never shies away from taking up challenges and even challenged a reporter to have a wrestling match.
- He’s such a huge auto and gearhead enthusiast that he receives Car and Driver magazine notifications on his iPhone.