Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden knowledges the crowd during a campaign rally Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Joe Biden spent most of his life serving in Washington, as a senator from the Democratic Party and vice president under Barack Obama.

However, attempts by the one-time lawyer to reach the highest point in the capital city and become president have foundered early on or never got off the ground, in part due to family tragedies.

Now, at the age of 77, he is ever more grey and his speech is showing some signs of slowing, but he has managed to lead a steady campaign to oust President Donald Trump from the White House.

Biden was the long-serving senator from Delaware – having first run for the seat at the age of 29 – before being tapped as vice president to balance out Barack Obama’s winning ticket to the White House in 2008.

He was then viewed as someone pragmatic who would bring on board white working-class voters and was sought after for his foreign policy experience. He was religious, but moderate, liberal, but not overly so.

His time on Capitol Hill was valued by the Obama team, as legislative deal-making is a delicate dance that trips up novices and can rattle presidencies.
He was also a regular on talk shows and is used to dealing with the media, despite being prone to gaffes that have led to trouble.

However, Biden also had a certain personal charm that has allowed him to wiggle out of dead-ends of his own creation.
In 1987, Biden’s hope to become president ended swiftly, when he was rather credibly accused of plagiarizing a speech during a primary campaign.

In 2008, his remark that Obama was not yet ready to be president came back to haunt him during the election.

In 2016, though, he chose not to run after eight years as vice president, after his son died of cancer and he decided to spend time with his grandchildren. It was the latest personal setback for Biden.

His first wife and a daughter died in a car accident in 1972. His sons were badly injured.

He nevertheless took his Senate seat but travelled back and forth each day from his home in Delaware to Washington, so he could see his two boys each night.

His use of the train became something of a legend and added to Biden’s popularity.

It is still being employed by his current campaign to give him an “everyman” image – along with his famous love of ice cream – and balanced out his missteps, to an extent.

His campaign has been aimed at generating little controversy and appealing to a wide base, without offending anyone, in what some commentators have dubbed as vanilla, or intentionally boring.

In a way, it paints Biden as the exact opposite of Trump. For example, on the coronavirus, Biden is at pains to wear masks in public and pledges to defer to scientists, as opposed to the president who is rarely seen with facial coverings and often gets into arguments with his top public health officials.

As his running mate, in an era where the country has been gripped by social-justice reform, Biden has chosen another senator, Kamala Harris of California, who would be the first ever woman, and black person, to be vice president.