As Biden, 80 announces his FOURTH run for President, DailyMail.com breaks down his 50 YEARS in politics – from when he was first elected Senator at 30 after claiming his opponent was TOO OLD at 63
- Biden was elected county government in 1970; elected to Senate at age 29
- He ended 1988 campaign amid plagiarism scandal
- Obama tapped him in 2008 after another failed effort; he defeated field in 2020
President Joe Biden’s announcement that he will seek a second term at age 80 offers just the latest chapter in a long, long political career that began back in 1970 – and figures to smash the longevity record once again if he wins.
It took him from the New Castle County Council to the U.S. Senate, through two failed presidential campaigns, a 36-year long Senate career, two terms in the White House as vice president, and a historic win over Donald Trump during the pandemic-altered campaign in 2020.
It was more than five years ago when then-President Barack Obama saluted Biden as a ‘lion of American history’ while presenting him with the Medal of Freedom in what was supposed to be the capstone of a long career in public service.
Now, Biden, 80, is suiting up for what will be his fourth White House run – in a campaing that will marry a ‘rose garden’ strategy that was on display this month with trips to battleground states that helped hand him the White House.
President Joe Biden, 80, was first elected to public office in 1970. He has finally decided to announce he is seeking a second term
Elected to government at age 27, sworn into Senate amid tragedy
Biden got his start in politics when he was elected to the New Castle County Commission in Delaware at the age of 27 – service at the local level that he still references when meeting with county and city officials.
He served two years there before getting elected to the Senate at the age of just 29 (he was sworn in at age 30, the Constitution’s minimum).
He found incumbent rival GOP Sen. Cale Boggs, then 63, perhaps old for the job.
‘Cale doesn’t want to run, he’s lost that old twinkle in his eye he used to have,’
In a story Biden still regularly tells at events, his wife Neilia and baby daughter Charlotte in a 1972 car crash just weeks after the election.
Biden says he thought about resigning, but instead was sworn into the Senate in the Wilmington hospital where Beau and Hunter Biden were being treated after the accident.
Biden was sworn into the Senate in 1973 in the Wilmington hospital where Beau and Hunter Biden were being treated after the accident that killed their mom Neilia and sister Charlotte
Biden kept up weekly commutes to Wilmington to raise his sons while serving in the Senate, with help from sister Valerie and other family members.
(He still leaves town many weekends to go home even as president).
Decades in the Senate
It was onto a long Senate career that lasted more than three decades. He was friends with iconic figures in the Senate including Ted Kennedy and John McCain.
(He has taken heat on the campaign trail for mentioning his friendship with segregationists including John Stennis and James O. Eastland of Mississippi.
Biden would eventually wield the gavel during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings over the confirmation of Robert Bork for the Supreme Court, in just one battle in the decades long judicial wars over the high court.
As it turns out, the hearings were just days after Biden was caught up in a plagiarism scandal that effectively ended his 1988 presidential campaign.
(Biden as president nominated as attorney general Merrick Garland, whose own nomination to the high court was stalled by Republicans under Obama).
He also chaired the 1991 confirmation for Clarence Thomas. His committee called Anita Hill to testify about sexual assault allegations, but didn’t conduct its own full probe into the matter.
He helped push through the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 during the Clinton administration – a law whose tough-on-crime positions became an issue in the 2000 primaries. Now, Biden regularly calls for restoring its expired ban on assault-style weapons.
He also chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – a role that exposed him to global issues and helped him forge relations with world leaders.
He voted against authorizing Operation Desert Storm in 1991, then voted for the resolution authorizing the second Iraq War, which came back at him during the 2008 Democratic primaries, and voted against a troop ‘surge’ of U.S. troops in 2007.
Biden chared the Robert Bork confirmation hearings in the Senate. He was friends with Sen. Ted Kennedy
Runs for the White House
Biden’s first runs for the White House featured a series of stumbles. He famously borrowed from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without crediting the MP, setting off a plagiarism scandal that helped his campaign.
He also took passages from the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who Biden this month called a political hero.
During one confrontation with a New Hampshire voter that got caught on camera, he told a New Hampshire voter, ‘I probably have a much higher I.Q. than you do, I suspect.’
When he tried to run again in 2008, he immediately put his foot in his mouth when he called then-Senate colleague Barack Obama ‘the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.’
Biden’s 1998 presidential campaign featured a series of stumbles (now first lady Jill Biden is left)
Biden campaigned with family in each of his efforts
Two terms in the White House
Obama tapped him anyway, even though his own presidential campaign flamed out after he got less than 1 per cent in Iowa.
He tore into GOP Rep. Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate, then made himself an influential figure in the Biden White House.
He helped advise Biden on the 2009 Recovery Act amid the financial crisis, and helped line up support in the Senate, as he did for other major Obama legislation.
The two men lunched regularly at the White House and sometimes made it outside the complex for burgers. Biden relied on his long held Senate relations to help navigate budget battles, keeping tough with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and others.
But he decided against making his own run for president at the end of Obama’s second term after the 2016 death of his son, Beau.
That paved the way for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to seize the Democratic nomination, and ultimately lose to Donald Trump.
Broke the age record in 2021
Biden already broke the record when he became the oldest U.S. president when he took office on Inauguration Day, 2021 at 78 – beating Ronald Reagan, who left office at 77.
Now, he hopes to pad his statistics while becoming the oldest president reelected (a designation Reagan also held).
Biden and his team have made sure to show flashes of his vigor – he suffered a few slips early in his tenure while jogging up the stairs to board Air Force One.
During his first two years in office, he has kept up an active travel schedule, although he has mostly avoided formal press conferences and kept a relatively light schedule at the start of trips to Ireland and Mexico.
Despite his advanced years, Biden isn’t the oldest major candidate to seek the presidency.
Former Minnesota Gov. Harold Stassen, born in 1907, sought the presidency in 1992 – it was his tenth bid for the office. He would have been 85 on Election Day.
More recently, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (81) sought the Democratic nomination in 2020 and 2016. He said last summer he would support Biden if he runs.
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