After serving on the New Castle county council from 1970 to 1972, Biden turned his sights to Washington. In 1972, he was elected to the U.S. Senate at the age of 29, making him the fifth youngest senator in history. Delaware's youngest-serving soon became the longest-serving, with Biden winning re-election in his home state six times. However, his prospects of a successful career in Washington looked grim from the outset. A month removed from his first Senate election, Biden's wife and 13-month-old daughter died in a car accident, and Biden was sworn into the Senate at their bedside. Some 16 years later in 1988, Biden suffered a brain aneurysm requiring two surgeries over a period of a few months.
But Biden persevered, soon becoming one of the Senate's strongest voices on foreign policy and assuming the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2003. Biden would still be on Capitol Hill if he hadn't been tapped by Barack Obama as the Illinois senator's running mate in 2008 following his own failed presidential run. As vice president, Biden has overseen the distribution of the stimulus package, been a dissenting voice within the White House on strategy in Afghanistan and has played a large role in executing Obama administration policy.