Away from politics, Mr. Biden’s personal tragedies inevitably returned to the spotlight as he ran for president.
On December 18, 1972, just weeks after winning a Senate seat, Mr. Biden’s wife, Neilia, and one-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car crash.
Neilia’s car hit a semi-trailer while the family was shopping for Christmas. Mr Biden’s sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured but survived the crash. Mr Biden later remarried, having his daughter Ashley with his wife Dr Jill Biden in 1981.
In August 2013, tragedy struck again when Beau, then a politician himself considered a future presidential hopeful, was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died two years later.
In the first debate, Mr. Biden vigorously defended Mr. Trump’s attacks on his family, namely his son Hunter’s business relationship and drug problems.
Mr Biden later spoke fondly of his son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015 after serving in Iraq. He attacked Mr. Trump over a report, denied by the president, that he called the soldiers “suckers” and “losers.”
Mr Trump said, “I don’t know Beau, I know Hunter. The president then said that Hunter had been kicked out of the military for drug use. Mr. Biden replied, “This is not true. My son had a drug problem. He passed him and I’m proud of him. ”
During this period, Mr. Biden continued his duties as vice president and shared emotional moments with Mr. Obama, the man who selected him as vice president in 2008.
Hunter Biden’s business dealings have been put high on the campaign agenda by Mr. Trump’s team.
The Trump campaign has claimed Mr. Biden was involved in improper business activity while he was vice president, which Mr. Biden has denied.
The Trump campaign staged a headline-grabbing stunt moments before the second debate when a former Hunter business associate gave a seven-minute press statement outlining new allegations.
Mr. Trump raised the claims during the debate in Nashville, Tennessee, calling Mr. Biden “corrupt.” His rival retaliated, “I have never taken a dime from any foreign source in my life.”
The president invited Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter, to the debate.
Mr. Bobulinski described how he and Hunter tried to do business in China in 2017. “I heard Joe Biden say he never discussed business with Hunter. This is not true, ”said Bobulinski at one point.
The statement included a multitude of allegations. Mr. Bobulinski said he was handing over devices to the FBI to support his claims.
The move echoed a debate during the 2016 campaign when Mr. Trump rounded up Bill Clinton’s accusers before facing his wife and then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mr Biden insists, as he has done throughout this year, that such stories are slander. He also called Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and Trump’s ally who pushed the claims, a “Russian pawn.”
Mr Biden launched the attack in the second debate by referring to Mr Trump’s Chinese bank account, which was recently revealed via Le New York Times. Mr Trump said it was shut down and hit back, “I don’t make money with China. You do. I don’t make money with Ukraine. You do. I don’t make money with Russia. Mr. Biden denied this.
Read more: In fact: Detailed account of Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s second presidential debate
Tensions with Obama
Mr. Biden recalls in Promise me, daddy, his book on those years, how Mr. Obama once shed tears for his son and offered to personally pay for treatment if the money was missing.
The couple’s relationship, the most important in Mr. Biden’s political career, was so close in public that their “bromance” became a familiar joke before they left.