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Joe Biden on Principles & Values

Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Side-by-side issue comparison to Paul Ryan

Does the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan agree with Democratic Vice President Joe Biden on anything? Nope, not among social issues like those listed below. We researched their voting records; their political biographies; their speeches and websites; and present their issue stances side-by-side on each of the following topics (and economic issues and international issues as well):
Source: Paperback: Obama-Biden vs. Romney-Ryan On The Issues , Aug 27, 2012

Tea Party should learn compromise, but are not 'terrorists'

Joe Biden says published reports that he compared Tea Party-linked lawmakers to "terrorists" during a closed-door meeting Monday are "absolutely not true." Biden told CBS Evening News, "I did not use the terrorism word."

Politico, citing "several sources in the room," reported that Biden, during a closed-door meeting with House Democrats, agreed with an argument by Rep. Mike Doyle (D, PA), who asserted that "we have negotiated with terrorists." The report said Biden asserted in response, "They have acted like terrorists."

Biden told CBS News he let lawmakers "vent," but he did not agree with the terrorism comparison. "There were some people who said they felt like they were being held hostage by terrorists," he said. "I never said that they were terrorists; I just let them vent." [Asked his opinion of Tea Party House members, Biden responded], "they'll learn that they have to have compromise. Compromise is not a dirty word. In a democracy like ours, that's the only way this place can work."

Source: Brian Montopoli & Christine Delargy on CBS News , Aug 1, 2012

Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive

Joe Biden is always ready to jump in as a character witness for Barack Obama. This time around, Biden is talking up Obama's spine, aiming to show that all traces of Obambi are gone and that the president is pure BAM! now.

"I just want to tell you, this guy's got a backbone like a ramrod," the vice president assured House Democrats last week. He repeated a line he'd heard to sum up what his party should campaign on: "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."

Biden, the only pol in town who can be more revealing on the record than off, dished up some of the confidential details of how the decision was made to go after Bin Laden in Pakistan. Obama had to make the toughest call of his presidency based on the moon. Would there be too much moonlight that night for the brazen secret operation--the kind that went wrong and marred Jimmy Carter's presidency?

Source: Maureen Dowd, Op-Ed Columnist , Jan 31, 2012

2010: Negotiated trades in bipartisan Senate bills

Biden came to the Oval Office with a full dossier of issues he'd been handling with Congress. He'd been meeting since the 2010 midterm with his old colleagues in the Senate, John McCain and Mitch McConnell. In his dossier was a wide array of swaps: from the DREAM Act, which gave rights to illegal aliens; to the still unratified START II treaty on nuclear weapons reduction with the Russians; to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military in favor of acceptance of gays; to tax giveaways; to the closing of food safety programs that industry opposed.

Obama sat with Biden, going over the package. But now Obama said, "No, I'm not going to make some of these trades." Biden, who'd been waiting for his friend to step up and assert more control, gladly stepped back.

Source: Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, p.387 & 462 , Sep 20, 2011

1973: Base Nixon's resignation on violations, not politics

The controversy dragged on, until the tape bearing the famous "smoking gun" made clear that Nixon had been aware and privy to payoffs to the Watergate burglars for their silence. Biden joined the chorus of demands that the president resign or be [In the 1973 Watergate hearings], Biden continued to caution his fellow Democrats, and the press, to proceed in a way that would assure Nixon a fair hearing that would not in any way jeopardize the ultimate administration of justice in the matter. trust of that office to such a degree as to warrant his forcible or voluntary removal from that office. His resignation was not the consequence of political pressures, but solely as a consequence of a violation of that high public trust." impeached, stating "For the sake of history, the issue must not be confused. The issue is not how well President Nixon conducted foreign policy over the past five and a half years, but whether the President of the United States violated high public
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.118-119 , Oct 5, 2010

1987: Clarion call: rekindle fires of idealism

With all preparations for running in place, and about $2 million in his campaign treasury, Joe Biden on 6/9/87 kicked off his bid for the White House at the Wilmington railroad station that had been a regular venue in his political life during his 14 years in the US Senate. In JFK-like urgings to get America moving again after the Republican "self-aggrandizement" years of Nixon, Ford and Reagan, he told the hometown crowd: "We must rekindle the fire of idealism in our society, for nothing suffocates the promise of America more than unbounded cynicism and indifference." And he reiterated his argument that it was time for youth to be served. "I am absolutely convinced that this generation is poised to respond to this challenge, and for my part this is the issue upon which I will stake my candidacy," he said. "The clarion call for my generation is not "It's our turn," But rather "It's our moment of obligation and opportunity.'"
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.169 , Oct 5, 2010

1987: Anti-Bork most organized opposition to Court nominee

As Judiciary Chair in 1987, Biden found himself in the middle of pressures from all these intense anti-Bork foot soldiers, demanding to testify at the confirmation hearings. The political reality was that Biden could not pick & choose without incurring the undying enmity of those who were denied. It had to be none, [or] (virtually) all. No one publically insisted upon testifying. And at the close of the hearings, Bork and his flawed constitutional vision--and not the coalition--remained at center stage The massive compilation came to be known within the coalition as "The Book of Bork" and was widely circulated among members of the Senate, the news media, and every group with an interest in rejecting the nomination. Biden himself underwent intensive pre
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.177-179 , Oct 5, 2010

Models his role on LBJ’s vice presidency

Q: What previous vice president impresses you the most and why?

A: A: Lyndon Johnson. For all the foibles he had as president, in people’s minds, he really knew how the system worked. He was able to be a significant facilitator of a new frontier, new policy. People in the Congress knew him, knew he knew a lot. And so I hope one of my roles as vice president will be as the person actually implementing Barack Obama’s policy. You gotta get the Congress to go along with it.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric , Oct 2, 2008

35-year track record of accomplishments

Q: What qualifies you for the job?

BIDEN: I will place my record and Barack’s record against John McCain’s or anyone else in terms of fundamental accomplishments. Wrote the crime bill, put 100,000 cops on the street, wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which John McCain voted against both of them, was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia.

PALIN: But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

Failure is at times inevitable but giving up is unforgivable

My dad, who fell on hard economic times, always told me: “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.” I was taught that by my dad, and God, but I am so grateful that my mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, is here tonight. Mom, I love you. She taught her children that you are defined by your sense of honor, and you are redeemed by your loyalty. She believes that bravery lives in every heart and it will be summoned. Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you

My mother’s creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you. My parents taught us to live our faith, and to treasure our families. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough. That was America’s promise. For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Voted with Democratic Party 97.0% of 233 votes.

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), was scored by the Washington Post on the percentage of votes on which a lawmaker agrees with the position taken by a majority of his or her party members. The scores do not include missed votes. Their summary:
Voted with Democratic Party 97.0% of 233 votes.
Overall, Democrats voted with their party 88.4% of the time, and Republicans voted with their party 81.7% of the time (votes Jan. 8 through Sept. 8, 2007).
Source: Washington Post, “US Congress Votes Database” , Sep 8, 2007

Most decisive moment: engaging in civil rights movement

Q: What’s the decisive moment in your life that led you to seek the presidency?

A: I worked in the African-American community, as the only white employee for a long while when I was a kid. And I got involved in the civil rights movement. The decisive moment in me life that put me on the broader path was the civil rights movement. When I realized that it does make a difference if you’re engaged. You actually can change people’s lives. You can actually change the state of the nation.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Politics is a noble calling

The first principles of politics I learned in the 1950s in my grandpop’s kitchen when I was about twelve years old. Grandpa wanted me to understand two things: First, that nobody, no group is above others. Public servants are obliged to level with everybody, whether or not they’ll like what he has to say. Second, politics was a matter of personal honor. A man’s word is his bond.

If you do politics the right way, you can actually make people’s lives better. And integrity is the minimum ante to get into the game. Nearly 40 years after I first got involved, I remain captivated by the possibilities of politics and public service. I believe my chosen profession is a noble calling.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p. xi-xvi , Jul 31, 2007


Joe Biden on Barack Obama

2008: I would not be anyone's V.P. nor Secretary of State

In 2008, Biden was apparently everybody's choice to be secretary of state. Asked about it, he was emphatic: "Absolutely, positively, inequitably, Shermanesquely, no. I will not be anybody's secretary of state in any circumstance I can think of. And I absolutely can say with certainty I would not be anybody's vice president, period. End of story. I guarantee I will not do it."

"If we have a Democratic president," he said, "I can have much more influence, I promise you, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee than I can as vice president." And he laughed, walking off to rejoin his family and get back to Wilmington. For most of the nation's history, the vice presidency had been avoided like a plague by most ambitious politicians. More often than not, especially in the first hundred years of the Republic, the office was regarded as a dead end, a sort of gold watch in retirement.

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.389-394 , Oct 5, 2010

2008: Preferred Secretary of State role to Vice Presidency

Joe Biden didn't want to be vice president--at least not at the start. He liked to trot out an old chestnut for his aides: A woman has two sons; one goes off to sea, the other becomes vice president; neither is heard from again. No, what Biden wanted was to be secretary of state. That was a real job. But when he thought about the other names supposedly on the short list. Tim Kaine? Evan Bayh? Kathleen Sibelius? "Nothing against them", Biden thought, "but if that's the group, I'm the guy."

It was that kind of cogitating that had gotten Biden into the 2008 race in the first place--that and a hunger for redemption. At 64, he saw it as his last chance. But his respect for Hillary Clinton was undiminished. In fact, he told Obama point blank that he should pick her as his running mate.

Obama knew Biden was the right call. The working-class thing. The gray-hair thing. The foreign-policy thing. Oh, and the attacking-dog thing. Obama was convinced that he could count on Biden to maul McCain.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.335-341 , Jan 11, 2010

2008 primary: Obama is "articulate & bright & clean"

Hadn't Thomas Jefferson written that no Negro existed who had "uttered a thought above the level of plain narration"?

Evidence of Jefferson's lingering ghost was provided by none other than Joseph Biden, Obama's eventual partner on the Democratic ticket. Earlier in primary season, he unwittingly echoed the author of the Declaration of Independence when he marveled at Obama's ability to bathe regularly and string sentences together. To Biden, the candidate seemed to be a character straight out of fiction. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he declared. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.123-124 , Jan 20, 2009

As VP, I’ll be point person in Congress

Q: What do you see as your role as vice president?

A: I had a long talk with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the US Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues. I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the US Congress for our administration. When asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barackindicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he’ll be making, I’ll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He’s president, not me, I’ll give my best advice.

And one of the things he said early on when he was choosing, he said he picked someone who had an independent judgment and wouldn’t be afraid to tell him if he disagreed. That is sort of my reputation, as you know. I look forward to working with Barack and playing a very constructive role in his presidency, bringing about the kind of change this country needs.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

We need a wise leader like Obama, not just a good soldier

These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader. A leader who can change, make the change that everybody knows we need. Obama is going to deliver that change. He will reform our tax code. He will cut taxes for 95% of the American people who draw a pay check. Obama will transform our economy by making alternative energy a national priority and in the process creating 5 million new jobs and finally freeing us from the grip of foreign oil. Obama knows that any country that out teaches us today, will out compete us tomorrow. That’s why he’ll invest in the next generation of teachers and why he’ll make college more affordable. That’s the change we need. Obama will bring down health care cost by $2,500 for the average family and at long last deliver affordable, accessible health care for every American. That’s the change we need. Barack will put more cops on the street, put security back in social security and he’ll never ever give up until we achieve equal pay for women.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

We should embrace change just like the previous generations

When I look at their young children--and when I look at my grandchildren--I realize why I’m here. I’m here for their future. I am here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton and Wilmington. I am here for the cops and firefighters, the teachers and assembly line workers--the folks whose lives are the very measure of whether the American dream endures. Our greatest presidents--from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy--they all challenged us to embrace change. Now, it’s our responsibility to meet that challenge. Millions of Americans have been knocked down. And this is the time as Americans, together, we get back up. Back up together. Our debt to our parents and grandparents too great, our obligation to our children is too sacred. These are extraordinary times. This is an extraordinary election. The American people are ready. I’m ready. Barack is ready. This is his time. This is our time. This is America’s time.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Apologized for saying Barack Obama was clean and articulate

Q: You have gotten in trouble with your language. When you said that Barack Obama was [the first African-American candidate who was] clean and articulate, you apologized for it. The Washington Post wrote: “The only thing standing between Joe Biden and the presidency is his mouth. His Achilles’ heel is his mouth.” Do you have a problem?

A: Look, this is a very rough game. My referring to Barack as articulate, it was a mistake. The good thing about being around a long time is people have a basis upon which to judge you. And I didn’t find any serious person in the civil rights community, because of my long history and long support for civil rights, thinking that I was trying to insult Barack Obama in any way. I didn’t find anyone suggesting that anything else I have said goes to the heart of whether or not my record is being undercut by what I’ve stated. But it is true. It is true that my candor sometimes get me in trouble.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007


Joe Biden on Past Campaigns

1987: Accused of plagiarizing Neil Kinnock's speech

A British Labour Party candidate, Neil Kinnock, delivered a speech in his recent election campaign [in which he] talked of the political opportunities that had come to him as a result of the helping hand they had received along the way. It struck a chord with Biden, reminding him of his own fortunes.

Kinnock said of his predecessors, "Anybody really think they didn't get what we have because they didn't have the talent, or the endurance, or the commitment? Of course not. It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand."

That last phrase particularly captured Biden's attention. At the Iowa debate, the campaign hadn't prepared closing remarks. An aide suggested, "Why don't you use the Kinnock stuff?"

Biden closed with, "Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to university? Were they not smart? Were they weak? No, they didn't have a platform on which to stand." He hadn't made the attribution to Kinnock that he usually did. [Newspapers called it plagiarism].

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.186-189 , Oct 5, 2010

1966: Required to retake law school course for plagiarism

Young Biden slid into a situation that much later would have damaging consequences to his career. As he described it in the memoir: "About six weeks into the first term I botched a paper in a technical writing course so badly that one of my classmates accused me of lifting passages from a Fordham Law Review article; I had cited the article, but not properly. The truth was, I hadn't been to class enough to know how to do citations in a legal brief. The deans and professors were satisfied that I had not intentionally cheated, but they told me I'd have to retake the course the next year." A classmate remembered Joe coming up to him one day and declaring: "You're not going to believe what just happened. They accused me of plagiarism!" the whole incident was soon forgotten after Biden retook the course in question and passed it the second time around--forgotten, that is, until it resurfaced years later in a manner that shook Biden's political ambitions to the core.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p. 41-42 , Oct 5, 2010

2008: Lawsuits accused him of defrauding business partner

At about the same time [as Palin was announced and attacked in the press], both the brother and son of Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, were accused by a former business partner of defrauding him out of millions of dollars. Two lawsuits were filed against them in June 2008. That was mentioned on page A-9 of the Washington Post in August. By Election Day, the New York Times still had not reported the lawsuit.
Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.137 , Nov 10, 2009

OpEd: Praised as poorest US Senator; but earns $248K

Joe Biden was praised by Democrats for being the poorest US Senator. Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC, touted Biden as "a good example of a working-class kid," adding that, to this day, Biden was "one of the least wealthy members of the US Senate." Only a Democrat would list "never really made anything of myself" on his resume. In the Huffington Post a liberal blogger gloated that, unlike John McCain, Biden wouldn't "forget the number of houses he owns," because in 2006, he was ranked the poorest US senator. According to tax returns for Biden and his public school teacher wife, in 2006, the Biden's total income was $248,459: in 2007, it was $319,853--putting the couple in the top 1% of all earners in the US. The national median household income was $48,201 in 2006, and $50,233 in 2007. Working for the government pays well.
Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.235-236 , Nov 10, 2009

Insulted Indian-Americans in attempt to compliment vibrancy

Biden has made several campaign-killing statements since he declared his candidacy in January 2007. In an apparent effort to compliment Americans of Indian descent, “In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian Americans--moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.” His office sought to explain the remarks, saying, ‘The point Senator Biden was making is that there has been a vibrant Indian-American community in Delaware for decades. It has primarily been made up of engineers, scientists and physicians, but more recently middle-class families are moving into Delaware and purchasing family-run small businesses.“
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.184 , Nov 11, 2007

MoveOn.org has not changed politics

Q: Senator Biden, do you believe that MoveOn.org has changed politics for the better?

A: I don’t think they’ve changed politics.

Q: Have they been a positive force in politics?

A: On some things, yes. I mean, look, I don’t think you can castigate them for the ad [saying “Patraeus or Betray Us?”]. But the idea that I was initially told--I’m going to get in trouble for this, but--that the quote, “It’s their party”--they’re part of the party. It’s not their party.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

1970: won first election, to County Council, in GOP district

In 1970 I told my wife I thought I’d like to run for New Castle County Council. I explained it was a GOP district, so I probably wouldn’t win, but I’d learn a lot, which had to be a good thing for somebody who wanted to make a more serious run later.

I asked my sister, Val, if she’d run the campaign. She was a methodical organizer. She got voter records going back several elections, had an index card for every block in every neighborhood and started recruiting block captains. I spent most of my time in Democratic precincts, but I also spent time going door to door in the middle-class neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. They were overwhelmingly Republican in 1970, but I knew how to talk to them. I understood they valued good government & fiscal austerity & the environment. I promised to fight for open space. Those voters were key for me. The 1970 elections were a washout for the Democratic Party in Delaware, but I won election to the County Council by 2,000 votes.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p. 50 , Jul 31, 2007

1972: beat GOP incumbent; 2nd youngest Senator ever elected

[My sister] Val had run every campaign I was in, and she would manage my Senate campaign too. The race for Senate was risk-free. Only a handful of people outside the family thought I had a real shot to win, so I figured even if I lost, people were going to say, “That’s a nice young guy.” I was confident I could be a solid candidate. And I actually believed I could win.

When the political reporters started to find out how hard I was working to win over voters, none of them called my running for the Senate ridiculous. I was “one of the bright young men of the Democratic party.” I think they liked fresh blood to write about. At the same time, the smart guys covering Delaware politics didn’t give me a snowman’s chance in August. They’d note my lack of a war chest, Sen. Boggs’s long-standing popularity, his quarter century of serving Delaware, and the slew of Democratic challengers he’d left by the roadside. [In 1972, Biden won by 3,000 votes and became the 2nd youngest senator ever elected.]

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p. 59-61 , Jul 31, 2007

His book “Promises to Keep” written before presidential race

Q: Tell us a little bit about your book, “Promises to Keep,” that’s coming out.

A: Well, I wrote a book back when I thought I was going to be working with John Kerry in a Kerry administration. It had nothing to do with presidential politics. I was encouraged to write it by a guy named Richard Ben Cramer, who wrote the book “What it Takes,” and asked how my personal values inform my public policy. And I talk about everything from the Supreme Court to the Balkans to Iraq, and how I think that the most significant thing about what we need in leadership is people who are willing to get back up. My dad used to have an expression. He used to say, “The measure of success is not whether you get knocked down; it’s how rapidly you get back up.” And the American people always get back up. And I think what they’re doing is looking for somebody who is going to give them the opportunity to be able to take on the tough issues that are out there and just tell them the truth.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Jul 15, 2007

Knocked out of 1988 race due to plagiarizing a speech

Senator Joe Biden, who was knocked out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 by Mike Dukakis is hardly the best the Democrats can put forward. Back then, he plagiarized a speech by British Labor Party Leader Neil Kinnock. Kinnock, who himself went down to defeat by one of the largest margins in UK history, was no role model, and Biden should have stuck to doing what all other politicians do--plagiarizing the work of their own speechwriters.

Biden has gained some credibility with his articulate, objective and forthcoming analysis of the Iraq War, given from his perch atop the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But he is, after all, another has-been who never was.

Source: Condi vs. Hillary, by Dick Morris, p.230 , Oct 11, 2005


Joe Biden on Personal Background

Favorite movie: “Chariots of Fire”, for real heroism

Q: What’s your favorite movie & why?

A: “Chariots of Fire” is probably my favorite movie. There is a place where someone put personal fame & glory behind principles. That to me, is the mark of real heroism, when someone would do that.

Q: Do you remember your favorite scene from that movie?

A: The favorite scene is when he is making the decision & talking about, “Do I do this?” He so desperately wanted to run, but concluded he couldn’t. It was that moment of decision that was my favorite scene

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric , Oct 2, 2008

Childhood stuttering strengthened me

My childhood impediment was a stutter. When I was at home with my brothers and sister, hanging with neighborhood friends, or shooting the bull on the ball field, I was fine, but when I got thrown into a new situation or a new school, had to read in front of the class, or wanted to ask out a girl, I just couldn’t do it. My freshman year, because of the stutter, I got an exemption from public speaking. Everybody knew it. It was like having to stand in the corner with the dunce cap. There were days I wondered: How would I ever bear it?

It’s a funny thing to say, but even if I could, I would not wish away the darkest days of the stutter. That impediment ended up being a godsend for me. Carrying it strengthened me and made me a better person. The very things it taught me turned out to be invaluable lessons for my life as well as my chosen career.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p. 3-4 , Jul 31, 2007

1972: Wife & child killed in pre-inauguration auto accident

[Just after Biden’s 30th birthday, after his election but before his inauguration into the Senate, he was informed his family had been in a traffic accident.] I kept telling myself that everything was going to be OK, but the minute I got to the hospital & saw my brother’s face, I knew the worst had happened. My three children had been in the car with my wife when the accident happened. Neilia had been killed and so had our baby daughter. The boys were alive.

Washington & the Senate had no hold on me. I was supposed to be sworn in two weeks, but I could not bear to imagine the scene without Neilia. I told the Senate majority leader, Mike Mansfield, that I wasn’t going to be a Senator. Mansfield was relentless. He called the hospital every day to tell me he needed me in the Senate and to keep me up to date. Mansfield told me I owed it to Neilia to a Senator. My wife had worked too hard for me to kick it away. Give me six months, Joe, Sen. Mansfield kept saying. So I agreed. Six months.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p. 79-82 , Jul 31, 2007

Remarried in 1977, willing to give up Senate for Jill

I met Jill Jacobs in 1975: I was 32; she was 24. In 1977 I asked her to marry me. Jill said she couldn’t give me up. I assured her I’d leave the Senate if she wanted me to.

I’d given her my word. I’d already let a few people know they might want to be ready to run for the Senate in case I got out. I was going to have to show Jill I meant it, [so I concluded] “I’ll tell Bill Frank I’m not running.” Frank was the chief political reporters at the Wilmington News-Journal. I could hear Frank’s phone ringing. Then I heard a dial tone. Jill had her finger on the phone cradle. She’d cut off the call. She told me later why: “If I denied you your dream, I would not be marrying the man I fell in love with.”

Jill and I were married by a priest at the UN chapel in NYC in 1977. Beau and Hunter stood with us at the altar. The way they thought of it, the four of us were getting married.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.116-117 , Jul 31, 2007

1988: suffered aneurysm requiring brain surgery

After a CT scan and an angiogram, the doctor who explained the results of the tests looked worried. I had an aneurysm lying just below the base of my brain. That is what had knocked me out the night before. I was lucky to be alive. But if the aneurysm bled again, I probably wouldn’t survive.

The size of the worst bulge and the leak meant that a fatal rebleed could be imminent. Surgery to shore up the spot where I’d bled was the best chance I had of survival. My chances of surviving the surgery were certainly better than 50-50. But the chances of waking up with serious deficits to my mental facilities were more significant. Any incidental damage could leave me seriously impaired.

The most likely incidence was loss of speech. Dr. George said what he was about to do was going to be difficult, but he had done many of these before. But he recommended I speak to my family--it might be my last chance. [Biden fully recovered from the surgery.]

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.219-222 , Jul 31, 2007


Joe Biden on Religion

1973: Reconsidered priesthood after losing wife in car crash

Biden recalled his thoughts in the depth of his despair and depression about the loss of [his wife and child in a car crash] was to reconsider the idea of becoming a priest. He went to the local Catholic bishop "about getting a dispensation. In the Catholic Church you could get married and have lost your spouse and have children, and you can get a dispensation to go to the priesthood. I didn't ask him to get it, I asked if he could, would he, etc., and he said, 'Look, Joe, why don't you take a year to think about this? I don't think this is the right thing for you, but if you still want to do that, I will initiate the procedure.' I never followed up on it. It was the only other thing I ever thought about, but it was obvious I didn't have the vocation or I would have done it." So began what soon would be a familiar daily sight to train passengers on the run between New York and Washington, in both directions--the Amtrak life of Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.98-99 , Oct 5, 2010

Prayer gives you strength, but doesn’t prevent crises

Q: Do you believe that, through the power of prayer, disasters like Hurricane Katrina could have been prevented?

A: My mom has an expression. She says that, “God sends no cross you’re unable to bear.” The time to pray is when you’re told, as I was, that my wife and daughter are dead, to have the courage to be able to bear the cross. Pray that God can give you the strength to deal with what everyone is faced with in their life, serious crosses to bear. The answer to the question is, no, all the prayer in the world will not stop a hurricane. But prayer will give you the courage to be able to respond to the devastation that’s caused in your life and with others to deal with the devastation.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Religion informs my values; my reason dictates outcomes

Religion informs my values. My reason dictates outcomes. My religion taught me about abuse of power. That’s why I moved to write the Violence Against Women Act. That’s why I take the position I take on Darfur. It came about as a consequence of the reasoning that we’re able to do it. I don’t find anything inconsistent about my deep, religious beliefs and my ability to use reason.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Voted NO on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice.

Vote on the Nomination -- a YES vote would to confirm Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Reference: Alito Nomination; Bill PN 1059 ; vote number 2006-002 on Jan 31, 2006

Voted NO on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Vote on the Nomination (Confirmation John G. Roberts, Jr., of Maryland, to be Chief Justice of the United States )
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination of John Roberts; Bill PN 801 ; vote number 2005-245 on Sep 27, 2005

Religious affiliation: Catholic.

Biden : religious affiliation:

The Adherents.com website is an independent project and is not supported by or affiliated with any organization (academic, religious, or otherwise).

What’s an adherent?

The most common definition used in broad compilations of statistical data is somebody who claims to belong to or worship in a religion. This is the self-identification method of determining who is an adherent of what religion, and it is the method used in most national surveys and polls.

Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.

Source: Adherents.com web site 00-ADH11 on Nov 7, 2000

Rated 100% by the AU, indicating support of church-state separation.

Biden scores 100% by the AU on church-state separation

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 AU scores as follows:

About the AU (from their website, www.au.org):

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. AU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

Americans United is a national organization with members in all 50 states. We are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and led by the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director. AU has more than 75,000 members from all over the country. They include people from all walks of life and from various faith communities, as well as those who profess no particular faith. We are funded by donations from our members and others who support church-state separation. We do not seek, nor would we accept, government funding.

Source: AU website 06n-AU on Dec 31, 2006

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Joe Biden on other issues:
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