He has been running for US president since 1987 but Joe Biden is today on
the verge of finally becoming the leader of the free world.
Two attempts failed but the setbacks were nothing in comparison to the personal tragedy he has overcome to reach the Oval Office.
But in what should have been an easy home run for the former university baseball star, he failed to attract votes from key groups.
Today, after launching his presidential transition website, Biden, 77, has begun to conduct an autopsy on a broken country and why his campaign struggled.
In battleground states such as Texas and Florida, communities with large Latino numbers showed little love for the Democrat after backing Hillary Clinton four years ago.
The failure prompted criticism from some of the party’s leading figures as Donald Trump ’s claim Biden would bring socialism to the US frightened people who had fled such regimes.
Within the black community, particularly among men, polls since Tuesday’s election show Biden reached a new low for their votes.
Trump gained endorsements from rappers such as Lil Wayne, Ice Cube and Kanye West while claiming no one had done more for the African American community.
On the campaign trail, the US leader also hammered “Sleepy Joe” on his record in the Senate, none more so than for his actions in the 1990’s “tough on crime” era. Biden voted for mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking and increased funding for federal jails – policies that contributed to the mass incarceration of black men.
But voters, including hundreds of thousands of Republicans, say they backed him for his decency.
And he pledged to fight for those who did not vote for him as much as those who did.
“We have to stop treating our opponents as enemies,” he said on Wednesday while waiting for the votes to be counted.
“We are not enemies. What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart.
“So let me be clear. I was campaigning as a Democrat but I will govern as an American president. The presidency itself is not a partisan institution. It’s the one office in this nation that represents everyone. And it demands a duty of care for all Americans. And that is precisely what I will do. I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote as those who did vote for me.”
His principles were instilled in him from the day he was born.
During his 47-year career in public office, he has worked with giants of the Senate and met many world leaders.
None of them have left as deep an impression on him as his father, Joseph Biden Sr. His dad had it all in his 20s, sailing yachts off the New England coast, driving fast cars and flying planes.
A decade later, he found himself with a wife and four children living in a two-bedroom apartment in Wilmington, Delaware, selling used cars. He had lost his wealth to a thieving partner but never bemoaned his fate.
His son said his father taught him lessons that have been guiding principles throughout his life.
Biden Sr, who died in 2002 aged 86, would tell him: “Remember, nobody is better than you, Joe, but you’re better than nobody,” and “the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down but how quickly he gets up”.
They have been the recurring themes of his campaign speeches. Raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he was a poor student but became class president.
He suffered with a stutter but reduced his impediment by reciting poetry in front of a mirror. On a spring break trip to the Caribbean, he met university student Neilia Hunter and “fell ass over tin cup in love”.
Encouraged by his new love, he gained a place at Syracuse University Law School upon his graduation from Delaware in 1965. The couple married the next year.
At best, he was a mediocre law student but in 1968, Biden moved back to Wilmington to begin practising at a law firm.
He also became an active member of the Democratic Party and in 1970 was elected to the local council.
While serving as councillor, in 1971, Biden, by then a father-of-three, started his own law firm. A year later he beat Republican incumbent J Caleb Boggs for the Senate. But a week before Christmas 1972, his wife and baby daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident. His sons, Beau and Hunter, survived.
Biden was inconsolable, recalling: “I began to understand how despair led people to just cash in. How suicide wasn’t just an option but a rational option. I felt God had played a horrible trick on me and I was angry.”
But determined to honour his promise to the people of Delaware, he continued in the Senate commuting three hours a day so he could see his children at night.
Biden found love again after going on a blind date with Jill Jacobs. They married in 1977 and had daughter Ashley four years later.
Jill, who holds two master’s degrees, was seen to be one of her husband’s presidential campaign’s most prolific surrogates, participating in fundraisers and rally events.
She intends to work two jobs – First Lady and English professor. “I can have my own job, my own life, but also work on issues,” she said. “I can have it all, really.”
Biden first entered the race for the presidency in 1987 but he dropped out after three months due to a supposed plagiarism scandal involving former Labour leader Neil Kinnock. He began a speech by claiming he was the first in “a thousand generations” to go to university in his family. Kinnock had made the same statements in a past speech.
Biden later admitted he had family members who had gone to university before him.
Before being chosen as Obama’s Vice President, he had his own presidential campaign for the 2008 election before dropping out.
After seven years at Obama’s side, he was again dealt a devastating blow. Son Beau, once Attorney General of Delaware, died aged 46 after falling ill with brain cancer.
His younger son Hunter almost cost him the White House this time round. Trump accused him of wrongdoing in regards to Ukraine and China while acting as Obama’s deputy, which he vehemently denies.
An alleged email surfaced in which an adviser from Ukrainian energy firm Burisma apparently thanked Hunter for inviting him to meet his father. Biden’s son was a director on the board.
The allegations failed to derail Biden, who is now on the verge of becoming America’s oldest leader. Known for being one of the world’s most empathetic politicians, he hopes to heal the deeply divided States.