Joe Biden is no stranger to the presidential debate stage, but tonight marks the first time he steps foot on that stage as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
Biden, who watched last night’s debate in Delaware, will arrive on stage with more presidential-level debating experience than his Democratic opponents. His first presidential debates came in the 1988 campaign, but that race also brought a debate moment which helped dash his presidential hopes when Biden used similar language in his closing remarks as British politician Neil Kinnock.
The Delaware Democrat returned to the presidential debate arena for the 2008 campaign when he debated candidates like then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. During a 2007 Democratic debate, he also unleashed a memorable zinger against Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani
“There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun and a verb and 9/11,” Biden stated to laughter. “I mean there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else.”
But tonight marks Biden’s first debate in seven years. In 2012, Biden fought with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Biden’s strong performance, which included several instances of calling out Ryan’s talking points as “malarkey,” stopped some Democrats’ concerns after President Barack Obama’s lackluster first debate against Mitt Romney one week prior.
Biden also delivered a memorable debate performance in 2008 when he faced off against GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who addressed her Democratic opponent at the onset with the question, “Can I call you Joe?”
Biden grew emotional as he talked about the loss of his wife and young daughter more than 30 years prior.
“The notion that somehow, because I’m a man, that I don’t know what it’s like to raise two kids alone, I don’t know what it’s like to have a child that you’re not sure is going to make it. I understand,” Biden said choking up.