(Reuters) - Joe Biden of Delaware, one of the longest-serving members of the U.S. Senate, is making a longshot bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Here are some facts about the 65-year-old lawmaker, considered a leading expert on foreign affairs.
* He was first elected to the Senate in 1972, shortly before he turned 30, the minimum age. A month later, his wife and daughter were killed and two sons injured in a car crash. Biden considered giving up his Senate seat but party leaders helped persuade him to serve. He remarried 15 years later.
* With a liberal to moderate voting record, Biden heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, having earlier chaired the Judiciary Committee. He presided over two of the most controversial confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees, both conservative Republicans. Robert Bork was rejected while Clarence Thomas was narrowly confirmed.
* He counts among his proudest moments in public service helping to end genocide in Bosnia and passing the anti-crime U.S. Violence Against Women’s Act a decade ago.
* In 1987, seen as a rising young political star who could draw big crowds and deliver fiery yet often long-winded speeches, Biden ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. He dropped out after charges of plagiarism in one speech and exaggerating his academic record. Biden said, “In my zeal to rekindle idealism I made some mistakes.”
* Biden backed the resolution that authorized President George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003 but soon became a leading critic of the war, accusing Bush of mishandling it. Biden has proposed a plan to end the war by creating three largely autonomous regions in Iraq -- Shi‘ite, Sunni and Kurd -- with a limited central government. It has been backed by many world leaders and most fellow senators but not the White House.
* Unlike many of his Senate colleagues, Biden, the son of a car salesman, is not a millionaire. When he first ran for the Senate, he vowed not to own stocks to avoid possible conflicts of interests. While lawmakers generally own or rent a residence in Washington, Biden commutes to work daily by train from his house in Wilmington, 80 minutes each way.
Writing by Thomas Ferraro, editing by Vicki Allen; Washington Editorial Reference Unit