■ He’s engaging, boasts a sterling resume, and appeals to blue-collar Americans. Joe Biden joins the race as its predominant centrist at a time many in the party’s progressive wing, including rivals for the nomination, have embraced policies like universal health care.
■ Several strategists see Biden as the down-to-earth Democrat with star power who connects with working class voters such as those who abandoned Hillary Clinton for Trump three years ago. His retail politicking skills, honed during two previous presidential runs, are peerless; he can flash his million-watt smile at college students, commiserate with unemployed Rust Belt machinists, or deliver a fiery admonishment of rivals.
■ “Uncle Joe” often presents a reassuring side of America, a reflection of the “hope” that brought a nation together to elect its first black president in 2008. His intimate acquaintance with grief is a soothing balm for many, as it was last September when Biden delivered an elegant eulogy for Republican Senator John McCain. And his fire and passion - he said in 2018 he could “beat the hell out of” Trump - could tap into the country’s fractious energy and bolster the case that he is best positioned to defeat the president.
■ Joseph Robinette Biden Jr was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, part of an Irish-Catholic family far from financial privilege. His father was a car salesman. Growing up, he was hampered by a stutter so bad he was cruelly nicknamed “Dash.”
■ Biden, who overcame the condition by reciting poetry in front of the mirror, came to see it as a blessing. “It gave me insight into other people’s pain, other people’s suffering,” he said in a speech to the American Institute for Stuttering in 2016.
■ He was first elected to the Senate in 1972, at just 29 years old. Shortly afterward, he lost his wife and baby daughter in a car crash that also left his two young sons, Beau and Hunter, badly injured.
■ Biden took his Senate oath of office at the boys’ hospital bedside, then for years commuted by train daily from Washington so he could be home each night with them and, from 1977, his second wife Jill. The family’s heartache was thrust into the public eye in 2015 when Beau Biden, himself a rising Democratic star, died of cancer.