Former Vice President Joe Biden’s looming entry into the Democratic presidential primary sets up what could be a titanic clash against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The elder statesmen who are the two front-runners for the nomination served together in the Senate briefly. Biden was the far bigger star than Sanders on Capitol Hill.
But Sanders has been more of a liberal policy visionary, championing policies that were initially regarded by colleagues as fringe ideas. These concepts were later embraced by leading members of the Democratic caucus, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and providing free college education.
Former colleagues describe Biden and Sanders as polar opposites in terms of personalities and interacting with fellow senators.
Biden, 76, is gregarious and sociable. He was always eager to work a room, strike up a friendly conversation or reassure a colleague who was feeling down. A retail politician to his core, Biden always wanted to know what was on his fellow senators’ minds.
Sanders, by contrast, was focused on policy, often so wrapped up in his thoughts that he seemed oblivious to his colleagues. He was seen as consumed by ambitious plans to fight wealth inequality and push the national debate to the left but uninterested in the personal lives of fellow senators.
“Joe and Bernie are very different people,” former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said with a chuckle. “Joe is very outgoing, very social.”
“Bernie is not that. Bernie has a different kind of personality. If the two of them were walking into a room together, Joe’s going to walk in with his hand out and begin meeting everybody. Bernie has a different approach,” he added.
Yet one Sanders ally said that while Sanders wasn’t chummy with his fellow senators, he liked Biden and considered him a friend.
Biden swore Sanders into office in 2007. At the time, the two men exchanged pleasantries, with Biden wishing Sanders’s wife, Jane, happy birthday. Read more