Keeping up with the Bidens: Who is the new first family?

Family tragedy, first dogs, and a graduation with Tiffany Trump.  Here is everything you need to know about America's new first family
Keeping up with the Bidens: Who is the new first family?

Meet the Bidens. From the left: Melissa Cohen with husband Hunter Biden and their baby, Naomi Biden, President-elect Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Maisy Biden, Finnegan Biden, Robert Hunter Biden, Natalie Biden, Ashley Biden with husband Howard Krein. Picture: CNN.

Following Joe Biden's inauguration as president of the United States, we've rounded up the who's who of the entire Biden clan. From the White House's first rescue dog and Beau Biden's friendship with Kamala Harris to the grandchild who went to college with one of the Trumps, find out all you need to know about the new first family.

Joseph Biden Jr.

Joe Biden was inaugurated as President today. Picture: Getty Images.

Joe Biden was inaugurated as President today. Picture: Getty Images.

The 78-year-old president started his career in politics aged just 29. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965 and Syracuse University School of Law three years later.

Biden was born in Pennsylvania in 1942 but moved to Delaware with his family at age 10 when his father struggled to find work. Joseph, or Joe as he was called at home, had a stutter as a child but overcame the impediment by reciting poetry.

He has three younger siblings: Valerie Biden Owens who has acted as his longtime advisor and former campaign manager, Frances ‘Frank’ Biden, a Florida real-estate developer who introduced Joe to his second wife, and James ‘Jim’ Biden, who has worked closely with Joe’s son Hunter in the past.

A young Joe Biden with his sister Valerie. Picture: Getty Images.

A young Joe Biden with his sister Valerie. Picture: Getty Images.

Biden served as a Senator for the state of Delaware from 1973 until his inauguration as Barack Obama’s Vice President in 2009. He has run for the presidency twice before, in 1988 when he was aged 44, and in 2008 against Obama. An issue with properly crediting speeches led to his dropping out of the 1988 Democratic race and he failed to gain sufficient support in the 2008 election. 

He married his college sweetheart, Neilia, in 1966 and the pair had three children, Joseph ‘Beau’ Biden III in 1969, Robert ‘Hunter’ Biden in 1970 and Naomi Biden in 1971. Neilia and one-year-old Naomi died in a car accident in 1972, one week before Christmas and days after Biden was elected to the Senate.

Joe and Neilia Biden with sons Beau and Hunter. Picture: Getty Images

Joe and Neilia Biden with sons Beau and Hunter. Picture: Getty Images

Biden, then aged 30, skipped his swearing-in ceremony to be with his sons (aged three and two at the time) while they recovered from the car accident. He took his oath from their hospital bedside and chose to commute to Washington DC from Delaware so he could raise his children.

He experienced his own health issues in 1988 when he underwent surgery for two brain aneurysms and blood clots in his lungs. After seven months in recovery, he returned to work in the Senate.

As Senator, he acted as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, sponsored the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, advocated for arms limitations with the Soviet Union, opposed the First Gulf War, and criticised the handling of the Iraq War.

Before the end of his vice-presidency, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction for his work on behalf of the country.

Biden is the second Catholic to be elected President of the US along with John F. Kennedy.

Dr Jill Biden 

Dr Jill Biden will be the first First Lady to work full-time while serving. Picture: Getty Images.

Dr Jill Biden will be the first First Lady to work full-time while serving. Picture: Getty Images.

Jill Biden (née Jacobs) was born in New Jersey in 1951 to a bank teller and stay-at-home mother who raised Jill and her four siblings. She studied English at the University of Delaware and married Bill Stevenson, whom she had met in high school, at age 20. The pair opened up and ran a successful pub before divorcing in 1975 after three years of marriage.

Following a gap year in college, she went on a blind date with Joe Biden, which was set up by his brother. After five engagement proposals, she married the senator in 1977. Their daughter Ashley was born in 1981.

Joe and Jill Biden during his first run for President in 1988. Picture: Getty Images.

Joe and Jill Biden during his first run for President in 1988. Picture: Getty Images.

The 69-year-old is a proud educator with a master's in education, another master's in English and a doctorate in education. While her husband was Vice President, the family lived at the Naval Observatory in Washington DC, where Kamala Harris and her husband are expected to take up residence.

Dr Biden was the first Second Lady to keep her full-time job while her husband served in the White House and is expected to continue breaking with tradition by working while she serves as First Lady from today.

During her husband’s vice presidency, she worked at Northern Virginia Community College as an English professor, known by her students as Dr B. She wanted to avoid being identified as Joe Biden’s wife and would ask her secret service detail to dress like students.

As Second Lady, she bonded with Michelle Obama, travelling and working with her on Joining Forces, their joint project that supports military families.

Among other duties, it’s expected that she will help advise on education policy while her husband is in office, having acted as an aid on his campaign giving speeches, aiding the education taskforce, and helping narrow down Kamala Harris as his choice for running mate.

Ashley Biden 

Ashley Biden has been vocal in her support for her father. Picture: Getty Images

Ashley Biden has been vocal in her support for her father. Picture: Getty Images

Jill and Joe Biden have one child together, Ashley, a 39-year-old philanthropist and social worker who is married to a doctor. She is a Tulane University graduate and has a master's in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. She has previously served as the executive director of the non-profit Delaware Center for Justice and also founded her own clothing company, Livelihood, in 2017.

Robert ‘Hunter’ Biden 

Hunter Biden has faced intense scrutiny from the media but his father has always voiced his support of his only surviving son. Picture: Getty Images

Hunter Biden has faced intense scrutiny from the media but his father has always voiced his support of his only surviving son. Picture: Getty Images

Hunter Biden (50) is Joe Biden’s only surviving child from his marriage with Neilia. He was born in 1970 and graduated from Georgetown University in 1992 and Yale School of Law in 1996.

He has previously worked in banking and co-founded a federal lobbying firm that he resigned from when his father joined Barack Obama’s campaign ticket. He went on to help create a network of investment and consulting firms before joining the Navy Reserves in 1993. He was discharged one year later, reportedly due to addiction troubles.

President Trump has targeted the Biden’s only surviving son on the public stage since the campaign began. Most recently, Trump mocked his addiction struggles during a presidential debate even though Hunter had little public involvement with his father’s campaign.

Despite the rumours surrounding Hunter’s career and personal life, including a past relationship with his brother’s widow, the attorney’s father has always said that he is proud of his son and speaks with him every day.

“Joe Biden used to say this all the time, and he meant it: ‘Delaware can always get another senator, but the kids can’t get another father.’ His rule was that if one of his kids ever called, we were told to get Biden no matter where he was," Ted Kaufman, Joe Biden’s chief of staff told The New York Times in 2009.

Hunter has three children, Naomi, Finnegan, and Maisy, with his ex-wife Kathleen, whom he divorced from in 2017 after 24 years of marriage. He has since married Melissa Cohen, a South African filmmaker. They have one child. 

Joseph ‘Beau’ Biden 

Beau Biden was expected to have a political career similar to his father's but passed away in 2015. Picture: Getty Images

Beau Biden was expected to have a political career similar to his father's but passed away in 2015. Picture: Getty Images

Beau Biden was Joe and Neilia Biden’s oldest child. He was a rising star in the Democratic party before his death due to a brain tumour in 2015.

He was born in 1969 and attended the same school and colleges as his father, including Syracuse University College of Law.

After getting his law degree, Beau worked at the Department of Justice in Philadelphia and was elected as the Attorney General of Delaware in 2006. He served two terms as Attorney General and had been planning to run for governor before his death. He married his wife Hallie in 2002.

Beau joined the US military in 2003 as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard. While serving as Attorney General, he was deployed to Iraq, where he kept up his state duties and received a Bronze Star for service.

Beau was visited in Iraq by his proud father. Picture: Getty Images.

Beau was visited in Iraq by his proud father. Picture: Getty Images.

At the age of 42, Beau suffered a stroke and had a lesion removed from his brain three years later. In May 2015, the father of two passed away with his father and brother by his side. He was 46 years old. 

Barack Obama gave the eulogy at the funeral where he quoted Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh.

The family, including Jill, Beau’s “second mother”, was deeply affected by his death. "Four days after Beau's funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit. I saw him steel himself in the mirror, take a breath, put his shoulders back, and walk out into a world empty of our son,” Jill said.

Beau also worked closely with friend and colleague Kamala Harris while they were both attorney generals for their states. In her memoir, Harris described how at one time they spoke nearly every day. A mutual colleague called them both "instant rockstars", and Harris described in a previous speech how she got to know Joe through his son, whom she called a "dear friend", right up until his death. 

The Biden grandchildren

The Bidens dote on their grandchildren and speak with them every day. Their eldest granddaughters were the first to tell their grandfather, whom they call ‘Pop’, that he had won the presidency and often post pictures of him online. They also called a family meeting to encourage him to run and appeared in numerous campaign videos to support their grandparents.

Naomi Biden II 

Naomi Biden (26), named after her late aunt, is Joe Biden’s oldest grandchild and Hunter Biden’s oldest child. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 with Donald Trump’s daughter Tiffany. She recently received her law degree from Columbia Law School, where her grandfather gave the keynote speech. She has created an online tool that helps people work out if they are eligible for CARES Act benefits with her boyfriend.

Finnegan Biden 

Finnegan Biden isn't as vocal as her older sister but made a few stops with her grandparents on the campaign trail. Picture: Getty Images.

Finnegan Biden isn't as vocal as her older sister but made a few stops with her grandparents on the campaign trail. Picture: Getty Images.

Finnegan Biden (21) is Naomi’s younger sister and was named after Joe Biden’s mother. The University of Pennsylvania student was often spotted on the campaign trail with her grandfather but keeps a relatively low profile.

Maisy Biden

Maisy Biden with her grandfather on a family trip to Nantucket. Picture: The Boston Globe.

Maisy Biden with her grandfather on a family trip to Nantucket. Picture: The Boston Globe.

Naomi and Finnegan’s sister, Maisy Biden (20), is the youngest of Hunter and Kathleen Biden’s children. Maisy also keeps a low profile but it’s known that one of her best friends in school was Sasha Obama, who she played basketball with. Maisy is a talented athlete and shared her high-school graduation party with Sasha and the Obama family.

Natalie Biden 

Natalie is the eldest child of the late Beau Biden and his wife Hallie. The 16-year-old high school student is close to her grandmother. "I would say she’s not your average grandmother,” she said in a campaign video. "She's a prankster, she's very mischievous.” 

Robert Hunter Biden II

From left: Finnegan, Hunter Jr, Maisy, Natalie and Naomi Biden. Picture: Biden Campaign.

From left: Finnegan, Hunter Jr, Maisy, Natalie and Naomi Biden. Picture: Biden Campaign.

Beau and Hallie’s youngest child was born in 2006 and named after his uncle. The 14-year-old is also still in school so has been rarely pictured with his grandparents. He did join his sister and cousins in reciting the pledge of allegiance at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, however.

Baby Biden

Page Six reported that Hunter welcomed a baby boy with his second wife Melissa Cohen in March 2020. The baby, pictured with his parents and the rest of the Biden clan in November, was named 'Beau Biden' by CNN but the baby's name is yet to be confirmed by his parents.

Champ Biden 

Joe and Jill Biden with their first dog Champ. Picture: Biden Campaign.

Joe and Jill Biden with their first dog Champ. Picture: Biden Campaign.

The Bidens have two German shepherds, Champ and Major, who had their official ‘indogauration’ this week. Champ is 12 years old and joined the Biden family in 2008 from a Pennsylvania breeder.

"He thinks he's Secret Service, and he is," his proud owner Joe said. The dog was named after a nickname Biden’s father would call him when he was younger.

Major Biden 

Major will be the first rescue dog to live in the White House. Picture: Facebook.

Major will be the first rescue dog to live in the White House. Picture: Facebook.

Major joined the family in 2018 after he was adopted from the Delaware Humane Association, who said the puppy was “from the litter of German shepherd pups that were surrendered and not doing well at all”. Joe Biden reached out immediately when he “caught wind of them,” the Association said in a Facebook post.

He is the first rescue dog to live in the White House and was recently serenaded by Josh Groban, who recorded a special version of ‘How much is that Doggie in the window’ for the “indogauration” which raised over $100,000 for the Association and saw participants nominate their own animals for a position in Major’s cabinet.

Organisers collected over 700 nominations for the title of Secretary of Rescue Dogs.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up