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Meet Joe Biden

2008 Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate

By Karen Fanning | September 8 , 2008
Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden. (Photo courtesy U.S. Senate)
Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden. (Photo courtesy U.S. Senate)

When Senator Joe Biden was a child, he never would have imagined delivering a speech before thousands of people. But that's just what he did at this year's Democratic National Convention. As a young kid growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee was teased mercilessly because he stuttered.

"When I was your age, I stuttered so badly," the Senator told Scholastic Kid Reporter Kyle Nowak last fall. "I u-u-u-used to talk like that, and everybody made fun of me. It took a long time to overcome."

In fact, Biden didn't stop stuttering until his junior year in college at the University of Delaware. But that didn't discourage him from pursuing a career in politics. Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 29. He was 30 when he was sworn in, the youngest a Senator can be according to the Constitution. Biden also ran for President twice, in 1988 and 2008.

Nearly 36 years after entering Congress, Biden still commutes 90 minutes each way from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to his office in Washington, D.C. His commitment to be home every night with his family impressed Barack Obama's wife, Michelle.

"I like the fact that Joe's on the train every day getting back home," says Michelle. "Those are the kind of values that I respect."

Biden is dad to three grown children: 39-year-old Beau and 38-year-old Hunter, both of whom are lawyers, and 27-year-old Ashley, who is a social worker. He also has five grandchildren. Biden's oldest son, Beau, is a member of the Delaware National Guard. He is scheduled to be deployed to Iraq on October 3—just one day after his father squares off against Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the election's only vice-presidential debate.

While Biden and Obama make their historic bid for the White House, the youngest members of their families are getting to know each other behind the scenes. During the Democratic National Convention, Biden's grandchildren had a sleepover with Obama's daughters at a Denver hotel.

"You know, our families have just really hit it off," says Senator Obama. "We had some of his grandkids over for a sleepover with Malia and Sasha. They just had a great time." If the Democrats win in November, the youngest Obamas and Bidens will be spending a lot more time together in the coming years.

Even though he's not at the top of the ticket, Biden is hoping that the third time's a charm when it comes to presidential politics. On Election Night, you can bet he'll be carrying his lucky charm—holy prayer beads!

Learn more about Senator Barack Obama, the man at the top of the Democratic ticket, here.

ELECTION 2008

Scholastic Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail. Keep up with the latest election news in this special report.

MORE NEWS FOR KIDS

Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from Scholastic News Online.

About the Author

Karen Fanning is a contributing writer for Scholastic News Online.

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