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Joe Biden on the issues, in under 500 words

Former Vice President Joe Biden.
Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Democrat Joe Biden formerly served as Delaware's senator from 1973-2009 before being elected President Obama's VP. Due to his name recognition and moderate politics, some argue Biden — 2020's current frontrunner —could be best positioned to make inroads with blue-collar swing voters who broke for President Trump in 2016.

Key facts about Joe Biden:

  • Age: 76
  • Born: Scranton, Pa.
  • Undergraduate: University of Delaware
  • Date candidacy announced: April 25, 2019
  • Previous roles: Vice president; U.S. senator from Delaware

Joe Biden's stance on key issues:

  • The cost of college: "Community college should be ... free," Biden said at the Electrical Workers Conference in April. In 2015, he said he supported free tuition at state universities.
  • Health care: He supports an optional Medicare buy-in. Biden's plan would create a government option for enrollees in the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
    • "The Affordable Care Act was a big step ... we need to build on it. What we can't do is blow it up," he said.
  • Marijuana legalization: He has a history of being anti-marijuana, calling it a "gateway drug." While vice president, Biden said he supports decriminalization rather than legalization.
  • Minimum wage: In 2015, Biden called for a $12 federal minimum wage, gradually increasing to $15 by 2020.
  • Infrastructure: He has suggested a general use of private and public funds to invest in federal infrastructure, saying the U.S. needs "a massive commitment to rebuild our infrastructure."
  • Climate change: Biden rolled out an ambitious climate plan in June that calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Key criticisms of Joe Biden:

  • Allegations of inappropriate touching: 7 woman have come forward to publicly address what they describe as uncomfortable encounters or instances of inappropriate touching.
    • Biden issued a video statement in response to the allegations, saying he understands "social norms are changing" and "the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset."
  • Justice Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation: Biden, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, voted against Thomas, but was criticized for failing to defuse attacks against Anita Hill, who had accused Thomas of sexual harassment.
  • Hyde Amendment: After a wave of criticism, Biden reversed his position in June on supporting a ban on federal funding for abortions.
  • The war on drugs and crime bills: In January, Biden expressed regret for supporting tough-on-crime bills during his time in Congress, which experts say have led to an era of mass incarceration that disproportionately affected black Americans.
  • Integration: He attempted to pass anti-busing legislation for school integration in the 1970s, a stance that has garnered renewed criticism.
  • Former immigration stance: During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Biden made it clear that he supported building a fence along the southern border to stop "illegals" from bringing drugs to the U.S. He also called for punishing American employers who hired undocumented migrants.

1 fun thing about Joe Biden:

  • When in law school at Syracuse University in 1967, Biden and his wife purchased a puppy they named "Senator."

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the other 2020 presidential candidates