Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.
His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed the processing of some ballots. Biden crossed 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.
Trump refused to concede, threatening further legal action on ballot counting.
Biden, 77, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. The strategy proved effective, resulting in pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had flipped to Trump in 2016.
The former Vice President and 36-year senator, first announced that he would run for president in April 2019.
“The core values of this nation … our standing in the world … our very democracy ... everything that has made America – America – is at stake,” Biden wrote on Twitter in his official announcement. “That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.”
Rumors had swirled about Biden’s potential candidacy leading up to his announcement. The news site Axios reported that Biden told top Democrats in January 2019 that he would jump into what was expected to become a very crowded field of Democrats ready to take on President Donald Trump.
What were the signs for those less politically connected? Biden spent the year before his announcement going after Trump on issues both foreign and domestic. He said he considered himself the “most qualified person in the country to be president.”
“I’ll be as straight with you as I can,” Biden said at a book signing tour in December 2018. “I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president. The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that have been in my wheelhouse, that I’ve worked on my whole life.”
After decades in the public eye, do you think you know Joe Biden? Here are a few things you may not have known:
- Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born on Nov. 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and moved to Wilmington, Delaware, at age 10.
- He has three siblings.
- He attended a series of Catholic schools and excelled at sports.
- He stuttered as a young boy.
- In 1965, he graduated from the University of Delaware and three years later earned a law degree from Syracuse University.
- He married his first wife, Neilia Hunter, in 1966. They had three children – Joseph Robinette "Beau" III, Robert Hunter and Naomi Christina.
- He worked as an attorney in Wilmington before running for and winning a seat on the New Castle County Council in 1970. In 1972, he unseated a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat.
- A month later, in December 1972, Biden's wife and children were Christmas shopping when the car they were riding in was struck by a truck. His wife and daughter were killed in the accident and his sons were badly injured.
- Biden canceled his plans to move to Washington and instead commuted by train from Delaware to work in the Senate. He was sworn in as senator in his sons' hospital room.
- After his wife's death, Biden would eventually meet schoolteacher Jill Jacobs. The two married in 1977 and had one daughter, Ashley.
- Biden won reelection in 1978 and five times after that. He was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and of the Foreign Relations Committee.
- In 1987, he entered the 1988 presidential race. He dropped out three months later amid claims he plagiarized material used in his campaign and made false claims about his academic record.
- Five months later, in February 1988, Biden underwent surgery to repair an aneurysm on the right side of his brain. A few months later he had surgery to repair a second aneurysm on the other side of his brain.
- While in the Senate, he introduced a bill that became the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), crafted a bill that put 100,000 more police officers in communities, and voted to ban assault weapons.
- In 2007, he once again announced he would run for president but dropped out of the race in January 2008. In August 2008, he became then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's running mate. The two were elected on Nov. 4, 2008.
- He was both the first Catholic and the first Delawarean to serve as vice president of the United States.
- The pair were re-elected in 2012.
- In May of 2015, his eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer. He was 46.
- Later that year, Biden said he would not run for president in 2016, but didn't close the door on a run in 2020.
- He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award the government gives, in his last month in office.
- He left office on Jan. 20, 2017 when Trump was sworn in.
- In February 2017, he and his wife launched the Biden Foundation which champions seven issues: foreign policy; a cancer initiative; community colleges and military families; protecting children; equality; ending violence against women, and strengthening the middle class.
- Biden published “Promise Me Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” in November 2017.
- If confirmed, Biden will be the second Catholic president and the oldest man to be elected for the position. John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the first Catholic president to be elected in 1961. Biden is 77 years old.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.