The Cover Story
‘You’ve Got to Have Purpose.’ Joe Biden's 2020 Campaign Is the Latest Test in a Lifetime of Loss
By Molly Ball
National Political Correspondent, TIME

Joe Biden can't walk into a room without wanting to meet everyone in it, even if he's just there to have his picture taken. On a recent afternoon in Ames, Iowa, he showed up for his TIME cover portrait by photographer Kelia Anne and introduced himself to everyone who happened to be standing around the conference room. He doesn't just shake your hand; he clasps it in both of his and looks straight at you with his piercing blue eyes, flashing a megawatt grin with his bright-white teeth.

Biden has been the frontrunner since he got in the race for the Democratic nomination last April, defying many predictions that he would collapse. Many voters know him mainly as Obama's vice president and have only a vague sense of where he comes from. In our cover story this week, we sought to reintroduce him, taking stock of how his eventful life has prepared him for this moment—and whether he has it in him to win the battle of his career.

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