US President-Elect Joe Biden Faced Personal Tragedies With Loss Of His 1st Wife, Daughter & Son
United States President-Elect Joe Biden has finally landed the top job after being declared as the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election.
His ascent to the top of American politics has come after a not-so-smooth journey, though, as he faced political defeats and personal tragedies, including the heartbreaking loss of 3 family members.
Now, as he looks forward to the next 4 years in the White House, let’s take a look back at how he got there.
1. His law school results weren’t stellar
While you might think someone who turned out to be president would have stellar academic grades, Mr Biden’s scholastic career wasn’t as top-notch as you may believe.
He did go to law school at Syracuse University, but graduated in 76th place — out of a class of 85, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Mr Biden at age 26.
It didn’t really matter, though, because he was still called to the bar and practiced as a public defender.
In 1969, he was elected to a county council seat in New Castle County, Delaware.
2. He was one of the youngest US senators ever
In 7 Nov 1972 – exactly 48 years before his presidential win was declared – Mr Biden was elected as a senator from the state of Delaware.
It turns out that he had a history of defeating Republicans with slim margins even then – he narrowly defeated his rival by just 3,162 votes, unseating a Republican who had held the post for 2 terms.
At the time of his election, he was only 29 years old — not old enough to serve, with the minimum age being 30. However, he celebrated his 30th birthday days later on 20 Nov.
When sworn in in Jan 1973, he was the 6th-youngest US senator ever, according to Senate.gov.
3. He lost his wife & baby girl in a car crash
However, his joy at becoming a senator was marred.
Just weeks before being elected, his 1st wife Neilia and 1-year-old daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash on 18 Dec 1972.
Mr Biden with his late wife Neilia and late daughter Naomi, as well as their 2 sons.
His 2 sons survived the crash, but were in critical condition, according to the Cape Gazette.
It forced Mr Biden to hold his swearing-in at the hospital, near his sons.
3. He was nicknamed ‘Amtrak Joe’
After his 1st wife’s death, Mr Biden became a single parent.
Thus, instead of living in Washington D.C., he chose to live in Delaware in order to raise his 2 sons.
He had to travel by train from the capital to Delaware for 90 minutes each way every day so he could tuck them into bed and have breakfast with them.
Because of that, he grew to love trains, and was nicknamed “Amtrak Joe”, after the US national railway company, wrote the Washington Post.
That nickname stuck, and he famously launched his 1988 presidential campaign from the back of a train.
During his most recent presidential campaign, he continued that theme, reaching out to voters on trains too.
According to him, he has ridden more than 2 million miles on 16,000 Amtrak trains.
4. He ran for president 3 times
Speaking of his presidential campaigns, the 2020 one isn’t his 1st time running for president — only his most successful.
In fact, Mr Biden has run for president a total of 3 times.
The 1st time was for the 1988 election — but he withdrew his candidacy 3 months after announcing it, after some past mistakes came back to haunt him.
In the end, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis won the Democratic nomination, but was beaten to the presidency by Vice-President George H.W. Bush.
In 2008, he again tried to run for president, but dropped out after disappointing polls putting him far behind eventual Democratic nominee Barack Obama.
However, Mr Obama selected him to be his running mate, and he was eventually elected vice-president.
Having had designs on the top job for such a long time, his patience has now finally paid off.
If that isn’t persistence, we don’t know what is.
5. His son died of brain cancer
Less than 2 years after starting his 1st vice-presidential term, however, Mr Biden would be dealing with personal tragedy shortly after victory again.
In May 2010, his older son Beau was hospitalised with headache, numbness, and paralysis, having suffered a stroke.
In Aug 2013, after Mr Biden was re-elected for a 2nd term, Beau was diagnosed with brain cancer, and after 2 years of fighting it, passed away on 30 May 2015, aged 46.
Having lost his wife and daughter, it must have been very difficult for Mr Biden to now lose his son.
It’s evident he still misses him, as just a day before the 2020 election, he visited Beau’s grave before making a final campaign stop in Pennsylvania.
His son must have blessed him, as Pennsylvania is the very state that clinched the presidency for him.
6. He loves dogs
While the Trump family didn’t have pets, dogs will be moving back into the White House, as Mr Biden is very much a dog lover.
He has 2 dogs, named Champ and Major, according to People.
Mr Biden with Major.
While Champ was adopted in 2008 and lived with him in the vice-presidential residence, Major was adopted in 2018.
Mrs Jill Biden with both dogs.
The German Shepherd will be the 1st rescue dog to live in the White House.
He was adopted from the Delaware Humane Association.
7. He had a stutter
Mr Biden had a stutter since he was young, which got better when he reached his early 20s.
He admitted this himself in a letter to the National Stuttering Association in 2009.
Saying he knows the “terrible fear and frustration”, he remembered painful experiences of growing up with one.
However, what he learnt from overcoming it is,
When you commit yourself to a sustained effort, when you persevere in the face of struggle, and when you find comfort and support from others, you will discover new strengths and skills to overcome the challenge before you.
Wise words indeed from a man who went on to speak eloquently on the national stage and even engage in presidential debates.
8. He’s the oldest president in history
Mr Biden might have been one of the youngest senators, but he’s now going to be the oldest US president in history.
With his win, Mr Biden becomes the oldest president-elect. He will turn 78 on 20 Nov, which means he was born in 1942 — in the middle of World War II.
The previous man who held the record for the oldest president was the late Mr Ronald Reagan, said USA Today.
Mr Reagan was 77 in 1989, when he left office. Mr Biden will make history as the oldest president when he’s inaugurated next year.
His victory shows that you’re never too old to achieve something great.
9. He’s won more votes than any president
Mr Biden has also broken another presidential record by winning the most votes of any US president in history.
Currently, he has a total of 74,446,452 votes, reported CBS News — and they’re still coming in.
The president he beat was his former boss, Mr Obama, who won 69,498,516 votes in the 2008 election.
Looks like the bromance is stronger with some friendly competition in the mix.
10. He visited Singapore in 2013
Lastly, let’s have a connection to our little island: Mr Biden paid a visit to Singapore in his 1st official visit here as vice-president in 2013.
Of course, he met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, reported TODAY Online. He also met then President Tony Tan and the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
But that’s not all he did. He also made an impromptu stop at Adam Road Hawker Centre, to the delight of locals.
He and his wife Jill also went to the Botanic Gardens, where an orchid was named after them — the Joe and Jill Biden orchid.
Mrs Biden had a great time visiting My Tree House, a “green” library that teaches children about the environment.
Mrs Biden even wrote a blog about her visit to Singapore.
Watch a video of their visit here:
Long & eventful life journey
Mr Biden has had a very long and eventful life indeed, and all his experiences, positive or negative, stand him in good stead for his future role as US president — at least his charming personality may help unite his country.
Since he’s enjoyed Singaporean hospitality before, let’s hope he comes back here, this time as president.
We hope also that Singapore-US relations will flourish under his tenure and that we’ll finally get a real US ambassdor to Singapore, as Mr Trump has failed to appoint one in 4 years.
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