The former vice-president, an apostle of the bipartisan feeling, has defied his age once before to triumph democratic elections and, at 76, could do so again

Caleb Boggs was a second world war hero who had never lost an election. The Republican senator for Delaware enjoyed a 30 -point lead in the referendums against an unknown, untested Democrat who was just 29 years old. Yet he was outplayed, and outworked, and lost by 1 %. The David who slayed this Goliath was a good-looking lawyer with a passion of fast gondolas. His name was Joe Biden.

The year was 1972 and Biden’s astound win would establish him the second youngest senator in American record. A few weeks earlier, he suffered the unimaginable : his wife, Neilia, and child daughter, Naomi, were killed during a car crash. In a phone call that was recorded, President Richard Nixon told Biden:” She was there when you triumphed a major victory. You experienced it together, and now, I’m sure, she’ll be watching you from now on. Good luck to you .”

Nearly half a century later, Biden has again been touched by personal cataclysm- the death of his son, Beau, 46, from intelligence cancer- and again stands on the brink of an election race in which his age is front and centre. Now a remarried father-god and grandpa and former vice-president, he is expected to announce soon a third bid for the White House despite concerns that, at 76, if he won, he would overtake Donald Trump as the oldest being ever elected US president.

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Joseph Biden and his first spouse Neilia cut his 30 th birthday cake at a party in Wilmington. His son Hunter waits for the first slouse. Photograph: Bettmann/ Bettmann Archive
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” His vocation began when he was often criticised as too young to run ,” said Jeff Wilser ,~ ATAGEND scribe of The Book of Joe.” How cool would it be to bookend his busines by prize another ballot where his age is an issue ?”

Age, nonetheless, is not the only question. With Michael Bloomberg and Sherrod Brown opting out of presidential attempts, Biden is seen as the flag-bearer for Democratic centrists at a few moments when the party is tilting to the left.

He is a white man at a few moments when the party has a record number of women and candidates of colour. He is an evangelist for bipartisanship at a few moments of polarisation. He is a foreign policy stalwart at a few moments when expertise has fallen into disrepute. He is famously tactile with women at a moment when #MeToo has redrawn the frontiers of personal space.

And yet, he might just pull it off.

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If the Charcoal Pit, a roadside diner in Wilmington, Delaware, was deciding the Democratic primary, it has previously be play over. Biden is a regular customer and beloved representation who never turns down a selfie petition. His favourite meal is grassland cheesesteak with a $4.75 black and white milkshake( like Trump, he is a teetotaler ). Staff remember him showing off his new car, clustering with them late at night to talk about foreign policy and creating President Obama for a meal.

Joseph Grabowski, 67, part of the restaurant management team, has known Biden most of his life.” One darknes in the 90 s he came in when we were cleaning up and sat down with us for the purposes of an hour. He was talking about the Taliban, how “hes living”, how they chew, everything. He’s brilliant. I would like to see him give the presidency a shot. I think that was his son’s dying hope .”

Such thoughts are typical in Delaware, the second largest smallest country in the union after Rhode Island, where” Amtrak welcomes you to Wilmington’s Joseph R Biden Jr Railroad Station and at least one ” Joe Biden scented candle “ can be seen. Its adopted son, boosters say, has moved with monarches( and presidents and prime ministers) yet indicated the common touch. The latter is often attributed to Delaware’s size, where retail politics is king, and his prior upbringing.

Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a hardscrabble city known for two things: coal and The Office. When Ricky Gervais’s hit comedy succession went looking for the US equivalent of the UK’s Slough as a typify of dead-end ennui, it settled in Scranton. But Biden mused last year :” If you listen to Barack, you’d conclude I clambered out of a coalmine with a lunch pail from Scranton in my hands. It’s not true .” His father was ” a white-collar worker”, he included, who moved their own families to Delaware to work as a vehicle salesman when Biden was 10.

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Senator Joseph Biden addresses a Washington press conference on the Salt II arms control treaty in October 1979. Photograph: Charles Harrity/ AP

The young Biden had a stutter but, Wilser’s journal memoranda, wasted hours in front of a mirror, memorising and performing poems as well as the declaration of independence. Eventually he defeated the stutter and found that all the practising became him an accomplished public speaker.

Biden married Neilia Hunter in 1966; they had a son, Beau, in 1969, followed by another son, Hunter, and daughter Naomi. Having studied at Syracuse Law School, finishing 76 th in a class of 85, Biden cultivated as a lawyer, connected the district council and get known in Democratic politics in Delaware. Then came that longshot Senate race against Boggs in 1972.

Wilser writes in The Book of Joe:” The Democratic defendant heavyweights knew they couldn’t beat Caleb Boggs. So they needed person expendable, a sacrificial lamb .” Biden himself writes in his memoir, Promises to Keep :” The smart guys crossing Delaware politics didn’t give me a snowman’s chance in August .”

It now seems hard to believe that Biden was the young, scrappy and thirsty Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of his daylight, pounding the streets, impounding coffee hearings and handing address as he combated a apparently unassailable incumbent. Mike Castle ,~ ATAGEND a former superintendent of Delaware, withdrew :” I remember was just going to a house and picking up this brochure for Joe Biden. It was all these senators endorsing him. I was very impressed by that .”

Biden prevailed by little more than 3,000 votes . He would serve in the Senate for the next 36 years, commuting from Wilmington by qualify and build a reputation for reaching across the aisle to Republicans such as John McCain. It was an approach influenced by Delaware pragmatism. Castle, a Republican, said:” Delaware has been that way for some time now … We worked very hard as an administration to manufacture everyone feel comfy, whatever we were trying to do. That’s carried over to a lot of the covers in Washington .”

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Biden, then the Senate judiciary committee chairman, chit-chats with Robert Bork on the first day of hearings to confirm him as a supreme court justice in 1987. Photograph: Terry Ashe/ The LIFE Images Collection/ Getty Images

But as Delaware leads, the nation does not necessarily follow in its current climate. In 2015, at a Capitol Hill ceremony unveiling a failure of former vice-president Dick Cheney, a cheery Biden said,” I actually like Dick Cheney”, and last week he praised Vice-President Mike Pence as “decent guy” but had to withdraw the remark after a backlash from the LGBT community.

Biden told an gathering in January :” I read in the New York Times today that one of my troubles is, if I ever run for president, I like Republicans. OK, well, bless me Father, for I have sinned !” For some moderate voters, however, bridge-building might petition as the perfect remedy to the Trump era’s toxicity.

Leon Panetta ,~ ATAGEND a former excuse secretary who has known Biden since the 1980 s, said:” I just think that if our democracy is ever going to get back to governing, as opposed to this partisan warfare we’ve been having in Washington, that it’s going to take a president who are familiar with the benefits of bipartisanship and who likewise appreciates what it takes to govern the country. That’s a persuasivenes as far as I’m concerned , not a weakness .”

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Biden fallen in love with Jill Jacobs , a schoolteacher, and remarried in 1977; the couple had a daughter, Ashley, in 1981. Contented at home, Biden’s profession in the Senate blossomed and he began a long tenure on the foreign relations committee.

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Senator Biden and his wife, Jill, are all smiles as they make their way through a crowd of wellwishers and photographers to take a train to Washington after announcing his candidacy for president of the United States in June 1987. Photograph: Bettmann/ Bettmann Archive

He operated for chairperson but came unstuck in 1987 where reference is mentioned the British politician Neil Kinnock but forgot to cite him (” he face-lift Mr. Kinnock’s closing speech with phrases, gestures and lyrical Welsh syntax intact for his own closing communication at a debate at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 23- without crediting Mr. Kinnock ,” the New York Times reported ). The piracy accusation ended Biden’s hopes. Michael Dukakis won the nomination.

The following year Biden suffered headaches and nausea and finally collapsed in a New York hotel room. He wrote in his autobiography that it felt like” lightning flashing inside my president, a powerful electrical rise- and then a slam of agony like I’d never felt before .” Doctors noticed a ruptured aneurysm and a priest was called in to administer last rites. But he survived this and a second aneurysm after surgery .

Biden chaired the 1991 corroboration hearings for the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and was criticised for not done enough to protect Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment. He has since apologised, but the incident still represents political baggage, as does Biden’s 2003 poll authorising the attack of Iraq, though again he forswore. He could also face criticism from liberals over links to the financial services industry ,~ ATAGEND a major attendance in Delaware.

Biden’s second presidential entreat, in 2008, moved best available than the first. Asked about adversaries Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, he granted a detailed reply and then could not resist a coda about Barack Obama :” I signify, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I signify, that’s a storybook, husband .” It was one of myriad gaffes for which Biden has become infamous.

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Biden and his wife Jill join Barack and Michelle Obama after Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Chicago on 4 November 2008. Photograph: Morry Gash/ AP

But after Obama’s primary win, he selected Biden as his running mate and the men’s close relationship is now the stuff of Twitter meme legend . Jake Sullivan ,~ ATAGEND who provided as Biden’s national defence consultant and would be appreciated him run for president in 2020, said : “ It’s funny, they are different in some really interesting directions but “the two countries relations” was genuinely mutually admiring.

” They were friends. They had the capability of finishing each other’s convicts. It was professionally effective but likewise personal and close in a way that maybe beings would not have been able predicted when President Obama selected Vice-President Biden as his running mate in 2008.”

Sullivan, a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace thinktank in Washington, was also struck by Biden’s empathy.” One of the things that’s most remarkable about him is that he also attends intensely about helping people through their hard times, through their remorse ,” he said.

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Tragedy came back to recur Biden again in 2015 with the death of Beau ,~ ATAGEND an Iraq war veteran and united states attorney general of Delaware who was tipped as a future state governor. The damage was a factor in Biden’s decision not to run against Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. Matthew Albright ,~ ATAGEND a reporter atthe News Journal in Wilmington, said:” It is difficult to overstate how big-hearted of a treat Beau’s death was in this state. The whole nation basically ground to a halt and sorrowed for weeks. Parties were scarcely reading anything else on our website. Joe stood outside of Beau’s funeral where thousands and thousands of beings came in the visitation and shook everybody’s side and talked with everybody and there are all these photos and videos of him just trying to console people.

” He calls parties in Delaware apparently when they lose family and he talks in very real terms:’ I went through this, I know how this feels .’ He would hate for it to be said that Beau’s death contributed gravitas to him, but the mode that he dealt with his remorse in public, particularly in Delaware, was an enormously gripping thing to watch .”

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The Biden family were represented at the funeral of Joe’s son Beau at St Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic church in Wilmington, Delaware, on 6 June 2015. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/ AP

Biden, a Catholic, wears Beau’s rosary on his left wrist every day. He is arguably now more soulful as a public speaker than he has ever been. Panetta said:” It’s handed his speeches not so much a political shape as an psychological line because he shares a lot of what he’s been through with his audiences .”

Few politicians have known such surge high-priceds or searing lows. The former Delaware senator Ted Kaufman, who was Biden’s chief of staff and supplanted him in the Senate, has observed :” If “youre asking me”, who is the luckiest person I have ever known? I “re just saying” Joe Biden. If “youre asking me”, who is the unluckiest I have known? I “re just saying” Joe Biden .”

Luck smiled on the young Biden against Caleb Boggs in 1972. Supporters was of the view that he can defy time’s arrow again to defeat Trump and begin healing a segmented nation.

Biden’s volume about Beau’s death, Promise Me, Dad, starts with a quotation from the philosopher Immanuel Kant ,~ ATAGEND too long for a bumper sticker or yard signed, but succinct all the same:” Rulers for Happiness: something to do, someone to desire, something to hope for .”

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