PHOTOS: Joe Biden and his decades of public life

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. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (AP2008)

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.

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. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (AP2008)
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. (AP Photo/Lana Harris) (AP1985)
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. (AP Photo/Rodney White) (1987 AP)
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., right, walks with his wife Jill after announcing his candidacy for president June 9, 1987, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/George Widman) (1987 AP)
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. (AP Photo/Enric Marti) (AP2002)
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. (AP Photo/Mark Hirsch) (2008 AP)
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. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) (AP2008)
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. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Vice President Joe Biden dances with his wife Jill at the Commander In Chief Ball on inauguration night in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (AP2009)
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. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (Pete Souza/The White House via AP) (AP)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Florida Democratic Party State Convention Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta) (AP2011)
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. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) (The Associated Press2012)
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. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
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. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
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. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
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. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
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. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
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. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden leaves after speaking at Mountain Top Inn & Resort, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Warm Springs, Ga. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
President-elect Joe Biden gestures on stage after speaking, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)