As Republicans gear up for their first presidential debate in Cleveland Thursday, it seems like all anyone can talk about on the Democrats' side is whether Vice President Joe Biden will challenge front-runner Hillary Clinton and dark horse candidate Bernie Sanders for the party's nomination. So, if Biden runs for president, what can we expect in terms of his positions on key issues? From gay marriage to abortion rights, Biden has been pretty clear about where he stands.
There is certainly plenty of experience on the 72-year-old's resume, dating back to his first term as a Delaware senator when he was just 29. Biden has sought the Democratic nomination for president twice before but did not last very long in either contest: He dropped out of the 2008 race after finishing fifth in the Iowa caucuses and in 1988, he left the race after allegations surfaced he plagiarized part of his stump speech from another politician.
While Biden had a strong "working families first" message during both short-lived campaigns, it's probably more useful to focus on his Senate record to discern where he stands on the issues, or at least, how he's voted. In his 36 years in the Senate, Biden became regarded as en expert in foreign affairs and most notably, introduced a sweeping piece of legislation in 1990 called the Violence Against Women Act, which, despite the somewhat confusing name, provided federal funding for investigation and prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assault cases.
Besides his occasional speaking gaffes and extremely meme-able behavior, the thing Biden is probably best known for as vice president is his support of same-sex marriage. Before President Obama expressed public support for the issue, Biden said on Meet the Press in 2012 that he was "perfectly comfortable" with the concept of same-sex marriage.
I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.
Many people believe it was this public statement by Biden that pushed Obama to champion the cause of marriage equality.
But Biden's stance on abortion rights may be an area where he could face some serious scrutiny if he chooses to run for president. His views have changed over time, which in the past has drawn criticism from women's rights groups. He's a devout Catholic, who has said his personal beliefs about abortion don't affect his public policy decisions. In his 2007 book Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, Biden acknowledges he's been inconsistent on the issue.
I've stuck to my middle-of-the-road position on abortion for more than 30 years. I still vote against partial birth abortion and federal funding, and I'd like to find ways to make it easier for scared young mothers to choose not to have an abortion, but I will also vote against a constitutional amendment that strips a woman of her right to make her own choice.
By all accounts, Biden is still very much in mourning over the tragic death of his son Beau in May. Whether or not he decides to push ahead with what could be a tough campaign, even for a vice president as popular as Biden, one thing is certain: It would make the Democrats' side of the race even more interesting than it already is.
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