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Joe Biden: Everything you need to know about the 2020 candidate

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Democrat Joe Biden formerly served as Delaware’s senator from 1973 until 2009 before being elected as Barack Obama‘s vice president from 2009 until 2017. Due to his name recognition and moderate politics, some argue Biden could be best positioned to make inroads with blue-collar swing voters that broke for President Trump in 2016.

Key facts about Joe Biden:

  • Age: 76
  • Born: Scranton, Pa.
  • Undergraduate: University of Delaware
  • Date candidacy announced: April 25, 2019
  • Previous roles: Vice president; U.S. senator from Delaware

Joe Biden’s stance on key issues:

  • The cost of college: “Community college should be we free and we can afford it,” Biden said at the Electrical Workers Conference in April. Biden also said he supported free tuition at state universities in 2015.
  • Health care: Biden has signaled that he is open to adding onto the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law while he was vice president. “The Affordable Care Act was a big step … but we need to build on it. What we can’t do is blow it up.”
  • Biden has spoken out against Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. He hasn’t publicly supported Medicare for All.
  • Marijuana legalization: He has a long history of being anti-marijuana, calling it a “gateway drug.” While vice president, Biden said that he supports decriminalization rather than legalization.
  • Minimum wage: In 2015, Biden called for a $12 federal minimum wage that would gradually increase to $15 by 2020, even when the Obama administration advocated for a modest uptick of $12 per hour from $7.25.
  • Infrastructure: He has suggested a general use of private and public funds to invest in federal infrastructure, saying the U.S. needs “a massive commitment to rebuild our infrastructure.”
  • Climate change: “We need to face the facts that climate change is coming. It’s not only a threat … it’s an opportunity,” he said in April, referencing the creation of jobs around renewable energy initiatives.

Key criticisms of Joe Biden:

  • Allegations of inappropriate touching: 7 woman have come forward — some in groups, some individually — to publicly address what they described as uncomfortable encounters or instances of inappropriate touching from Biden.
  • Biden issued a video statement in response to the allegations, saying he understands “social norms are changing” and “the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset,” adding, “I get it.” He did not specifically issue an apology in the video.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation: The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh last year, amid allegations of sexual assault, thrust Biden into a national debate over how he handled Thomas’ confirmation in 1991. Thomas was also accused of sexual harassment by his former employee, Anita Hill. Biden, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, voted against Thomas, but was criticized for failing to defuse attacks against Hill.
  • The war on drugs and crime bills: In January, Biden expressed regret for supporting tough-on-crime bills during his time in Congress, including a measure that established strict sentencing standards for crack and powder cocaine offenses, which experts say have led to an era of mass incarceration that disproportionately affected black Americans.
  • Integration: He attempted to pass anti-busing legislation for school integration in the 1970s, a stance that has garnered renewed criticism. Biden said that, at the time, he believed in equal educational opportunities but was still against busing children or using quota systems as a way to achieve desegregation.

1 fun thing about Joe Biden:

  • When attending law school at Syracuse University in 1967, he and his wife purchased a puppy that they named “Senator.”

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the other 2020 presidential candidates

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