Joe Biden became the 46th President of the United States and this was the realization of his decades-long quest, with two previous failed bids. His goal now is, as he has put it, restoring “the soul of America” after four years of Donald Trump`s presidency. Biden, who at age 78 is the oldest president to occupy the White House, first arrived in Washington as a young upstart.
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He was elected in 1972 at age 29 to the US Senate from the state of Delaware and remained there for 36 years before serving from 2009 to 2017 as vice president under Trump`s predecessor Barack Obama, the first Black US president. Biden unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008 before finally securing his party’s backing in 2020 with strong support among Black voters.
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Biden`s previous two presidential runs did not go well. He dropped out of the 1988 race after allegations that he had plagiarized some speech lines from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. In 2008, Biden won little support and withdrew, only to be selected later as Obama`s running mate.
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On Wednesday, Biden took the helm of a nation with deep political divisions in the midst of a public health crisis that has battered the world`s largest economy. “I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation – the middle class – and to make America respected around the world again. And to unite us here at home,” Biden said in his victory speech on Nov. 7 after being projected as the winner of a fiercely contested election.
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“I`m a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I`ll work as hard for those who didn`t vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now,” Biden added. Trump refused to concede his election loss and falsely claimed that it was “rigged” against him with voting fraud and irregularities. Opinion polls show large numbers of Trump`s Republican supporters believe his unfounded claims, leaving Biden with the task of restoring faith among millions of voters in American democracy.
The January 6 siege of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob underscored the difficulty of Biden`s task. Trump still faces a Senate impeachment trial on charges of inciting them. Biden, who became only the second Roman Catholic president, has brought to his political career a mix of blue-collar credentials, foreign policy experience and a compelling life story marked by family tragedy – the loss of his first wife and a daughter in a car crash, and a son to cancer. He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008 before finally securing his party`s blessing in 2020 with strong support among Black voters.
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Biden opted not to run for president in 2016, only to watch Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. With Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, Biden has a unique opportunity to make good on his ambitious agenda that includes reversing innumerable Trump policies, tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and rescuing the economy.