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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice-President Joe Biden leaves the lectern after delivering remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Image Credit: AFP

On Tuesday, Democrats across six US states voted in droves for former vice-president Joe Biden, solidifying his position as the party’s front-runner and all-out-certain candidate to challenge President Donald Trump come November’s presidential elections.

Voters across the states that voted said they trusted Biden more to handle a major crisis by roughly two-to-one over Vermont senator Bernie Sanders — and the fast-growing Covid-19 outbreak helped increase his appeal as a steady and experienced hand.

The results from the six states that voted last week, along with the results of the Super Tuesday primaries held in early March have brought the campaign of the 77-year-old former Delaware senator back from life support when it appeared he was pretty much dead in the water in a crowded field of Democrat candidates.

But these are not normal times.

“We share a common goal and together we are going to defeat Donald Trump,” Biden said in Philadelphia after Tuesday’s gains. “Winning means uniting America. Not sowing more division and anger.”

Over the past three weeks, it’s clear most Democrats regardless of race, economic or educational demographics, believe Biden alone has the potential to defeat Trump come November 3. And that’s a reality Biden is happy to embrace, accepting the endorsements of former rivals Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris — swept aside by his resurgent campaign.

And poll after poll consistently gives him at considerable edge in any presidential campaign against Trump.

Michigan magic

Michigan was the biggest and most competitive of the six states that held nominating contests in Tuesday, which also included Washington, North Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho. It also is a crucial battleground that Trump narrowly and unexpectedly won in 2016, which along with wins in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin propelled his ascent to the White House.

The Biden breakthrough in Michigan could be too much for Sanders to overcome, with the contest shifting to large states including Florida, Ohio and Georgia where the former two-term vice-president Biden is seen as a clear favourite.

By the end of March, about two-thirds of the nearly 4,000 delegates to July’s Democratic nominating convention will be allocated. Biden has a commanding lead and has already secured more than 40 per cent of the 1,991 needed to win — and Sanders is running out of states where he can make up the difference.

Biden is being propelled to victory by strong support from a broad coalition of groups, including women, African Americans, those aged 45 and older, union members and all but the very liberal, according to exit polls. In Michigan, he performed well with union members and working-class white voters — two groups that helped Sanders to an upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016.

Joseph Robinette Biden was born on November 20 1942. Should he defeat Trump, he will become the oldest president to take office. Raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and New Castle county, Delaware he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in 1965 and a law degree from Syracuse University in 1968.

Family tragedy

He married Neilia Hunter, and the couple later had three children. After graduating from law school, Biden returned to Delaware to work as an attorney before quickly turning to politics, serving on the New Castle county council from 1970 to 1972. He was elected to the US Senate n 1972 at the age of 29, becoming the fifth youngest senator in history. About a month later his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident, and his two sons were seriously injured. He famously took the oath of office for his first Senate term from the hospital room of his toddler sons Beau and Hunter, who both survived the accident.

Although he contemplated suspending his political career, Biden went on to win reelection six times, becoming Delaware’s longest-serving senator.

In 1977 he married Jill Jacobs, an educator, and they later had a daughter. In addition to his role as US senator, Biden also was an adjunct professor between 1991 and 2008 at the Wilmington, Delaware branch of the Widener University School of Law.

His eight years in the Obama White — where he frequently appeared at the president’s side — has allowed Biden to lay claim to much of Obama’s legacy, including passage of the Affordable Care Act, the economic stimulus package and financial industry reform.

“Middle Class Joe”

The so-called “Middle Class Joe” was also brought on board to help woo the blue-collar white voters who had proved a difficult group for Obama to win over.

Those two terms supporting the first black president marked a high point of a nearly 40-year political career for Biden. He first ran for president in 1988 but withdrew after he admitted to plagiarising a speech by the then leader of the British Labour Party, Neil Kinnock.

His lengthy tenure in the nation’s capital has given critics ample material for attacks.

As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, he oversaw Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings and has been sharply criticised for his handling of Anita Hill’s allegations that she was sexually harassed by the nominee.

Biden was also a fierce advocate of a 1994 anti-crime bill that many on the left now say encouraged lengthy sentences and mass incarceration.

In 2015, Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46. The younger Biden was seen as a rising star of US politics and had intended to run for Delaware state governor in 2016.

Biden garnered considerable goodwill following Beau’s death, which served to highlight Biden’s central strengths: a reputation as a kind and relatable family man. And as a politician who has the experience and leadership in a time of crisis — such as now.

— With inputs from agencies, BBC.

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