Photos: Joe Biden and his decades of public life

President-elect Barack Obama, left, and Vice president-elect Joe Biden wave to the crowd at their election night party at Grant Park in Chicago, Tuesday night, Nov. 4, 2008.
Election_2020_Biden_Photo_Gallery_81135 Vice President-elect Joe Biden, with his wife Jill at his side, takes the oath of office from Justice John Paul Stevens, as his wife holds the Bible at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.
Vice President Joe Biden dances with his wife Jill at the Commander In Chief Ball on inauguration night in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.
President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017.
Leaders from Latin America and Europe talk before posing for the official photo of the Progressive Governance Leaders Summit in Vina del Mar, Chile, March 28, 2009. Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, from left, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Uruguay's President Tabare Vazquez.
In this image released by the White House and digitally altered by the source to diffuse the paper in front of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in Washington.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Florida Democratic Party State Convention Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Standing amid members of the Euclid High School marching Band, Vice-President Joe Biden whistles to get someone's attention following a campaign stop at a fire station in Euclid, Ohio, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011.
Vice President Joe Biden greets Lawrence Smith, 8, and Madison King, 9, both of Van Buren Township, Mich., during a campaign stop at Renaissance High School, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, in Detroit.
Election_2020_Biden_Photo_Gallery_31247 Vice President Joe Biden, right, talks to President Barack Obama at their election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his family, holds his hand over his heart as he watches an honor guard carry a casket containing the remains of his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, into St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., June 6, 2015, for funeral services. Standing alongside the vice president are Beau's widow Hallie Biden, left, and daughter, Natalie. Beau Biden died of brain cancer May 30 at age 46.
President Barack Obama walks with Vice President Joe Biden back to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 25, 2015, after speaking in the Rose Garden.
Election_2020_Biden_Photo_Gallery_67755 Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tosses his jacket off stage as he begins to speak during a rally at the Teamster Local 249 Hall in Pittsburgh, Monday, April 29, 2019.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., raise their hands to answer a question as Joe Biden pauses Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa.
Election_2020_Biden_Photo_Gallery_76563 Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., pass each other as Harris moves to the podium to speak during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.
Election_2020_Biden_Photo_Gallery_51482 Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while referencing President Donald Trump at a campaign event at the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 28, 2020.
Election_2020_Biden_Photo_Gallery_50805 Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., raise their arms up as fireworks go off in the background during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. Looking on are Jill Biden, far left, and Harris' husband Doug Emhoff, far right.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden boards his plane at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, Pa., after speaking at a campaign event in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Aug. 31, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden visits with C.J. Brown, right, and Clement Brown, the son and father of the owner of Three Thirteen, as Biden arrives to shop for his grandchildren at the store in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Biden is visiting Michigan for campaign events.
Election_2020_Biden_Photo_Gallery_80388 Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden leaves after speaking at Mountain Top Inn & Resort, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Warm Springs, Ga.
President-elect Joe Biden gestures on stage after speaking, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., listens during his stop at Flat Rock Community High School in Flat Rock, Mich., Monday, Sept. 15, 2008.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., holds his daughter Ashley while taking a mock oath of office from Vice President George Bush during a ceremony on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Jan. 3, 1985. Biden's sons Beau and Hunter hold the bible during the ceremony.
Presidential hopeful Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., gestures during a speech to students on the University of Iowa campus, April 13, 1987, Iowa City, Iowa.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., right, walks with his wife Jill after announcing his candidacy for president June 9, 1987, in Wilmington, Del.
U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., Chairman of the U.S Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, waves as he talks to Afghan children during a visit to the Ariana primary school in Kabul, Jan. 12, 2002. Biden was on a two-day visit to the Afghan capital.
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., rests his head on the shoulder of his wife, Jill, as they stand in a hallway awaiting his introduction for a rally at the UAW Hall in Dubuque, Iowa, on the day of the Iowa caucus Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008.
Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., waves to the crowed as he prepares to address the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., left, and other family members watch Biden's grandson Hunter wave from the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. mingles with passengers on the Amtrak Acela train from Washington to Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., shakes hands with democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at a rally in the rain at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008.
(1/31)

Joe Biden mounted two previous presidential bids in 1988 and 2008, never making it out of the Democratic primaries.

In 2020, the third time’s the charm.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden has been a fixture in Democratic national politics since he won an upstart campaign to become a U.S. senator from Delaware in 1972. He would chair multiple Senate committees and serve in the Senate until 2009, when he became vice president alongside President Barack Obama.

Biden represented the country at international summits, and was among those in the Situation Room the night that Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. In November 2012, he and Obama celebrated their reelection in Chicago as red, white and blue confetti rained down.

Nearly one-half of Biden’s life has played out in the public eye. That has included moments of tragedy, such as the early deaths of his first wife and infant daughter in a car crash, and later the death of his elder son from cancer. There have also been highs, such as when Obama surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2017.

Biden emerged this spring as the Democratic presidential nominee from a field of about two-dozen candidates including political veterans and rising young stars. He then tapped one of them, California Sen. Kamala Harris, as his running mate, and the two slogged through the marathon of a presidential race complicated by social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

With Obama, Biden was part of a historic ticket that gave the country its first African American president. In choosing Harris as his own running mate, he enabled the breaking of another barrier — the first Black woman to be elected vice president in America.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up