The former vice president has centered his third presidential run on his vow to oust President Trump. He began his campaign with a video that start with the words “Charlottesville, Virginia,” alluding to the white supremacist violence there as a way of drawing attention to the division and violence he says has racked the country under the current president. In September, Biden’s name became part of the House’s impeachment inquiry of Trump, who acknowledged asking the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter. Neither Biden nor his son has been accused of wrongdoing.
As Biden and his family face heightened scrutiny, the former vice president has struggled to maintain a lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has steadily climbed in the polls. Biden, 76, has been a force in Democratic politics for nearly five decades, representing Delaware in the Senate for 36 years before serving two terms under President Barack Obama. His long history has forged connections with voters and prompted criticism of his past, including his positions on crime legislation, his interactions with women and his tendency to make gaffes on the national stage.
Biden is embracing the Green New Deal’s framework, setting a deadline to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and vowing to create a clean-energy economy with new jobs. Biden said that he’d rejoin the Paris climate accord on his first day in office and would pressure other countries to take steps to lower emissions. But some climate activists, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former Democratic presidential candidate, have accused Biden of having “middle ground” climate proposal and skirting more ambitious short-term targets.
Biden’s first detailed policy plan was centered on education. He called for a major increase in federal spending on low-income schools and districts and for the Education Department to renew its commitment to desegregation. His plan also involves paying teachers higher wages. Biden, unlike Obama and in line with other 2020 candidates, is placing less of an emphasis on accountability measures such as standardized testing and more focus on investment and partnership.
The former vice president has made foreign relations and Trump’s behavior on the international stage a cornerstone of his campaign. “Foreign policy is domestic policy and domestic policy is foreign policy,” he said in a July speech. He has accused Trump of currying favor with dictators and alienating allies with his “America first” mantra. Biden was a proponent of free-trade deals under the Obama administration but has since reversed his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has been forced to defend his vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement. He has criticized Trump’s trade war with China, calling for new guidelines that would facilitate trade between the nations without allowing China to “keep moving and robbing U.S. firms.”
Biden has said he favors automatic voter registration. He has not addressed questions about structural changes to the electoral college and has voice opposition to changing the makeup of the Supreme Court.
Biden’s health-care policy proposal is built on the legacy of Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He has been an outspoken proponent of a public option to allow anyone to buy into Medicare. Unlike many contenders to his ideological left, Biden has not endorsed Medicare-for-all. “I understand the appeal of Medicare-for-all, but folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare, and I’m not for that,” Biden said in a video. He has said he thinks undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run health plan.
Biden has called for an increase in the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States by giving legal status to dreamers and ending the Trump administration’s limitations on asylum seekers. He does not support decriminalizing border crossings, a position that has drawn condemnation from other White House hopefuls, and he has struggled in the past to justify the deportations under President Obama’s leadership. Biden has stressed the importance of addressing the “root causes of migration” with foreign aid to Central America, and has made investing in technology at the border a prominent part of his platform, saying that technological improvements would “do more for our security than a wall ever could.”