Biden, who was raised in Scranton, Pa., and New Castle county, Del., received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in 1965 and a law degree from Syracuse University in New York in 1968. After graduating from law school, he returned to Delaware to work as an attorney before quickly turning to politics, serving on the New Castle county council from 1970 to 1972. Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, becoming the fifth youngest senator in history. He went on to win reelection six times and became Delaware’s longest-serving senator. In addition to his role as U.S. senator, Biden also served as an adjunct professor at the Wilmington, Del., branch of the Widener University School of Law in 1991.
As a senator, Biden focused on foreign relations, criminal justice, and drug policy. He served on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, twice as its chair (2001–03; 2007–09), and on the Committee on the Judiciary, serving as its chair from 1987 to 1995. He was particularly outspoken on issues related to the Kosovo conflict of the late ’90s, urging U.S. action against Serbian forces to protect Kosovars against an offensive by Serbian Pres. Slobodan Miloševi. On the Iraq War, Biden proposed a partition plan as a way to maintain a united, peaceful Iraq. Biden also was a member of the International Narcotics Control Caucus and was the lead senator in writing the law that established the office of “drug czar,” a position that oversees the national drug-control policy.
Biden pursued the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination but withdrew after it was revealed that parts of his campaign stump speech had been plagiarized from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without appropriate attribution. His 2008 presidential campaign never gained momentum, and he withdrew from the race after placing fifth in the Iowa Democratic caucus in January of that year. (For coverage of the 2008 election, United States Presidential Election of 2008.) After Barack Obama amassed enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden emerged as a front-runner to be Obama’s vice-presidential running mate. On August 23 Obama officially announced his selection of Biden as the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nominee, and on August 27 Obama and Biden secured the Democratic Party’s nomination. On November 4 the Obama-Biden ticket defeated John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, and Biden also easily won reelection to his U.S. Senate seat. He resigned from the Senate post shortly before taking the oath of office as vice president on Jan. 20, 2009.
Vice President Joe Biden called Thursday for a start to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, despite Israel’s insistence that it be allowed to build a new settlement. During Biden’s visit, Israel announced that it planned to build more than 1,600 homes for West Bank settlers, making U.S. efforts to encourage peacemaking more difficult.
Biden, who was humiliated by the news, said the announcement worked to undermine peace efforts, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Wednesday that he would not enter into talks as a result of Israel’s decision.
Abbas had initially planned a four-month negotiation process, which was to be mediated by the U.S.
With no construction scheduled for now, Biden urged negotiations, saying that the countries would have time to resolve this issue before building occurred. Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu said he had voiced his displeasure to his interior minister over the poor timing of the project announcement.