Who: Joe Biden
Current position/Experience: 2020 presidential candidate, former vice president of the United States (2008-2016)
Campaign Website: https://joebiden.com/
Background: After graduating from Syracuse University Law School in 1968, Joe Biden was elected into the New Castle County Council and served as an attorney in Delaware. In 1972, he won the state’s U.S. Senate election against J. Caleb Boggs and continued to serve until 2009. He attempted to win the presidential election in 1987 before dropping out of the primaries. News reports declared that he plagiarized a portion of one of his speeches. He tried again in 2007, only to drop out after a devastating defeat in the Iowa caucuses. Former President Barack Obama appointed him to be his vice-presidential candidate. Obama and Biden won the election in 2008. Biden served the VP office until 2016.
- Health care: “The ACA isn’t perfect,” Biden wrote in The Washington Post two years ago. “But the choices we made when designing the law flowed from a commitment to provide the best possible care to the most people. Compare that to Republican proposals, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said will mean more than 20 million fewer people will have health coverage by 2026, and millions more will no longer have the same protections provided by the ACA.” Biden may not support elements of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan, specifically in regards to taxing the rich to pay for the program.
- Immigration: Biden was critical of Trump’s immigration policy. When Trump’s administration planned to separate illegal immigrant children from their parents at the border, he said, “Grotesque lies about immigrants and policies that rip babies from their mothers’ arms carry echoes of the darkest moments in our history.” In 2014, Biden said that he considered the 11 million immigrants that crossed illegally to already be American citizens in his eyes. He said at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that, "These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to contribute fully. And by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans, in my view."
- Environment: Biden supported domestic restrictions on emissions that could cause climate change. “For too long we have abdicated the responsibility to reduce our own emissions, the largest single source of the problem we face today,” Biden said in 2007. “We have the world’s largest economy, with the highest per-capita emissions. Rather than leading by example, we have retreated from international negotiations.” He pushed to take away subsidies from major oil companies, encouraged the International Whaling Commission to continue to stand against commercial whaling and proposed tighter EPA requirements for power plants when cleaning mercury waste.
- Economy: In May 2018, Biden spoke at a panel hosted by the Brookings Institute. He offered his ideas for the economy, including changing the tax code to no longer just favor investors. He believed the new tax cut wasn’t ideal because it gave the wealthiest people the biggest break. Biden also “called for free community college paid for by eliminating the stepped-up basis tax expenditure in the tax code,” according to Brookings.
- Criminal Justice: Biden co-sponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1988, which changed the minimum sentences for drug crimes. This included tougher sentences for possession of crack cocaine. In 1994, Biden authored The Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act, which illegalized the manufacturing of certain types of semiautomatic weapons, funded new prisons, and made new federal death penalty offenses for drug-dealing-related murders, murders related to civil-rights issues, and for acts of terrorism. Biden said in January that he regrets some of his past decisions in dealing with drug crimes regarding how they affected low-income minority groups.
- Gun Control: Biden wants to end the “gun show loophole, so you can’t go into a gun show and buy a gun that you couldn’t buy walking into a gun shop.” He voted yes on S. 254 to require background checks in 1999.
- Abortion: Biden said in 2007 that women have the right to choose whether or not to receive an abortion, but believed that no public funding should be provided. “I still am opposed to public funding for abortion,” he said. “It goes to the question of whether or not you’re going to impose a view to support something that is not a guaranteed right but an affirmative action to promote.”
- Touchy-feely: In late March, Nevada politician Lucy Flores accused Biden of sexual assault. Two more females came forward alleging he had inappropriately touched them. The former VP didn't exactly apologize for the interactions, only noting that he meant no harm. He pledged to be more respectful in the future and try to limit physical contact.
- Anita Hill: Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas was facing his confirmation hearings. During those hearings, witness Anita Hill claimed that she had been harassed by Thomas. Critics to this day say Biden did not do enough to give Hill a voice. He has recently admitted as much.
- Not Diverse Enough: While Biden is still generally favored by Democrats, some question whether or not he should run against President Trump in 2020, not only due to the vast competition but also because of his age, gender and ethnicity.
This piece is part of our Election 2020 series. See below for more information on the most talked about Democrats challenging President Trump.