Joseph Biden, Jr.
Joseph Biden is vice president of the United States. He took office in January 2009 after serving for thirty-six years as a US senator from Delaware. When he was first elected in 1972, Biden became the sixth-youngest senator in US history. In 2007 he campaigned for the Democratic nomination for president, but he withdrew his candidacy in January 2008. Throughout his Senate career Biden focused on criminal justice and US foreign policy. A practicing Catholic and the first Catholic to serve as vice president, Biden considered becoming a priest before being drawn to public service instead. As a senator, he met with Pope John Paul II on several occasions and attended his funeral in 2005.
Biden’s selection as a vice presidential candidate was in part an appeal to white Catholic voters. Biden stated during his 2007 campaign that the Democratic party needed to "deal with the faith issue," and he has long argued that Democrats should not be afraid to invoke religion and acknowledge Americans’ religiosity. A supporter of Roe v. Wade, Biden has said he accepts the Catholic Church's teachings on the beginning of life at conception but that society needs to incorporate divergent religious beliefs. Some conservative Catholic leaders, repeating attacks made on Senator John Kerry during the 2004 Presidential campaign, have called for Biden to refrain from communion in light of his support for Roe v. Wade. Unlike Obama, Biden did not make discussion of his faith a centerpiece of his presidential or vice presidential campaigns, even noting that he did not often discuss it, but that other people brought the subject up.
Since taking office as vice president, Biden has advised the Obama administration on many of its policies. He will head the White House Task Force on Working Families, and continues to take a strong interest in U.S. policy toward Pakistan, including fighting religious extremism there.