The VP has a reputation as the administration's "closer," helping to avert the debt-ceiling crisis in 2011 and the near-tumbling off the fiscal cliff in early 2013. Having represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years, the affable Biden boasts relationships with members of Congress that President Obama hasn't cultivated. "His list of accomplishments is impressive, but most impressive to me is his ability to build bridges, bring people together and get things done," House Majority Eric Cantor told Time magazine in April. "Even though we disagree on many issues, he creates opportunities for future collaboration. He does that by treating people with kindness and respect, and by speaking with honesty and candor."
But Biden also has a reputation for making gaffes, inspiring countless Onion parodies and dimming his potential as a presidential candidate in 2016. (An even bigger hurdle: former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, if she decides to run.) "I don't think it's any real secret that it's something that he's going to think about," Biden's eldest son, Beau, Delaware's attorney general, told The Washington Post. "I want him to give it real thought. I think he'd make a great president." Biden has endeared himself to the Democratic base by preempting the president in backing gay marriage and leading the administration's crusade for gun-control legislation. He pushed Congress earlier this year to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which he wrote in 1994.
"It's never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America," Biden recently told graduates of the University of Pennsylvania. "You're the most competent, capable, caring generation this country has ever produced." He entreated, "Don't listen to the cynics."
Biden, 70, was born in Scranton, Del., earning the blue-collar credibility he frequently deploys on the campaign trail. He graduated from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School. At age 29, he became one of the youngest people elected to the U.S. Congress. His tenure in the Senate included stints as chairman of the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees.