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Politics & Government

10 Joe Biden Moments You Should Hear Again

Vice President Biden has developed a reputation for many as the nation's charming but eccentric uncle. His unvarnished, man-of-the-people persona is why many supporters love him — and wanted him to run for president again. But it's also gotten him into trouble on occasion.

Let's recall some of highlights — and a couple of gaffes — from Biden's political career.

1. The First Senate Campaign

Biden spent 36 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate. When he first ran in 1972, Biden pitched himself as — you guessed it — authentic. For this ad, Biden's staff recorded his conversations with voters about whether they believe anything politicians say anymore.

2. Early Tragedy

Biden's public life has been characterized by extreme highs and lows. In May of 2015, while speaking at Yale University, Biden recalled the moment, six weeks after his 1972 election victory, when he was in Washington hiring staff when he received a phone call that changed everything.

Biden appears with his wife Neilia and daughter Amy, on election night 1972. Just weeks later, the two were killed in a car crash that badly injured his sons, Beau and Hunter.
/ AP
Biden appears with his wife Neilia and daughter Amy, on election night 1972. Just weeks later, the two were killed in a car crash that badly injured his sons, Beau and Hunter.

3. The First Presidential Run

Biden has run for president twice before. In 2008, of course, he dropped out and eventually signed on as Barack Obama's running mate. His 1988 bid ended in disgrace. In his stump speech that year, Biden had been borrowing from a speech his aides showed him by Neil Kinnock, the leader of Britain's Labour Party who was in opposition to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

He pulled out of the race in September 1987, outside the hearing room on Capitol Hill where he would return to work as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Biden announces his withdrawal from the 1988 presidential race following a plagiarism scandal.
Ron Edmonds / AP
Biden announces his withdrawal from the 1988 presidential race following a plagiarism scandal.

4. The 'Articulate' Gaffe

Biden has a gift for saying things that don't come out just right. He made one of his most famous gaffes while launching his 2008 presidential bid. He was trying to pay a compliment to his then-rival Barack Obama, using some racially loaded language.

Biden speaks during the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting in Washington on Feb. 3, 2007. There, he expressed regret for describing presidential rival Barack Obama as an articulate and clean African-American.
Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP
Biden speaks during the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting in Washington on Feb. 3, 2007. There, he expressed regret for describing presidential rival Barack Obama as an articulate and clean African-American.

6. Senate Swearing-In

As vice president, Joe Biden serves as president of the Senate, with the responsibility to swear in new senators. His penchant for off-the-cuff remarks has never been on display more than at those ceremonies, as Biden leans in to pose for pictures — and flirt — with senators' wives, mothers and daughters.

Biden kisses a niece of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., during a ceremonial Senate swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill in 2015.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
Biden kisses a niece of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., during a ceremonial Senate swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill in 2015.

7. BFD

Obama eventually chose Biden as his running mate. The charismatic elder statesman brought foreign policy chops to the ticket. But it was Obama's signature domestic achievement that brought one of the most memorable Biden moments in the White House. When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Biden was caught off-mic using some colorful language to tell the president what a big deal it was.

Biden leans in to congratulate President Obama on signing the Affordable Care Act into law during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Biden leans in to congratulate President Obama on signing the Affordable Care Act into law during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.

8. Support For Same Sex Marriage

As the tide of public opinion shifted on same sex marriage, Biden seemed to force President Obama's hand with an endorsement during an appearance on NBC's Meet The Press in 2012. The president said that his views had "evolved" days later.

Vice President Biden addresses a Freedom To Marry event in New York on July 9.
Craig Ruttle / AP
Vice President Biden addresses a Freedom To Marry event in New York on July 9.

9. The Long Wait

Biden's authenticity and compelling personal narrative are reasons why many Democrats clamored for him to run, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has struggled to connect with voters. Those calls grew to a fever pitch last month after he was interviewed by comedian Stephen Colbert. Biden talked about the emotional toll from the death of his son Beau to brain cancer in May.

Biden meets with Jewish community leaders on Sept. 3 in Davie, Fla. It was one of his first official trips following the death of his son Beau, and one that looked like possible outreach preparing for a presidential run.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Biden meets with Jewish community leaders on Sept. 3 in Davie, Fla. It was one of his first official trips following the death of his son Beau, and one that looked like possible outreach preparing for a presidential run.

10. The Final Decision

Beau's death was on Biden's mind when he announced that he would not run for president in 2016. He said that his family was in a good place emotionally. But the time it has taken them to heal was time Biden didn't have to prepare to run.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Biden exits the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday with his wife, Jill, and President Obama after announcing he will not run for president in 2016.
Win McNamee / Getty Images
Biden exits the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday with his wife, Jill, and President Obama after announcing he will not run for president in 2016.