That ’70s Show: Biden edition

Political Theater, Episode 93

Former Vice President Joe Biden arrives for his 2020 campaign kickoff rally at the Eakins Oval in Philadelphia on May 18. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Say this for the Democratic presidential field: Voters certainly have choices. From former vice presidents to tech entrepreneurs, from senators to mayors, from wizened veterans to young upstarts.

Out of this crowded roster, Joe Biden is arguably the most recognizable. The affable No. 2 to President Barack Obama and longtime former senator is among the most known political quantities.

But even Biden was once a rookie, trying to break through in Delaware and facing an uphill race against a veteran senator, all while running before he was even eligible to take office at age 29.

CQ Roll Call staff writer Stephanie Akin has reported out a story on Biden’s 1972 Senate race. It’s a part of Roll Call’s “Battle Tested” series that chronicles the presidential candidates’ most significant early races.

Biden’s 1972 race typically focuses on the death of his wife Neilia and daughter Naomi in a car accident shortly after his election.

What is usually not discussed all that much is how the actual race unfolded.

Biden, whose only prior public office was winning election to the New Castle County Council, was initially tasked with finding a sacrificial lamb to take on Sen. J. Caleb Boggs, a Republican close to President Richard Nixon and a former Delaware governor and congressman, who looked set to steamroll his way to reelection. 

Eventually Biden took on the role himself, and went on to engineer a historic upset, relying on a shoestring campaign budget, lots of family shoe-leather work and retail politics galore. 

In the latest Political Theater podcast, Stephanie discusses the conversations she had with some of the people who worked on the campaign, what she learned about that race and how it fits into the context of the 2020 presidential race. 

Show Notes:


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