Joe Biden, a fixture in US politics for a half century as a senator and vice president, is seeking to complete a long climb to the political mountaintop that includes two previous failed presidential bids by defeating President Donald Trump on Tuesday. If Biden beats the Republican president, a fellow septuagenarian, the 77-year-old Democrat from Delaware would become the oldest person ever elected to the White House. Biden has sought to portray his political experience as a benefit, casting himself as a tested leader up to the tasks of healing a nation battered by the coronavirus pandemic and providing steadiness after the turbulence of Trump’s presidency. Accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in August, Biden stressed compassion and decency, seeking to draw a contrast with the pugnacious Trump. “I’ll be an ally of the light,” Biden said, “not the darkness.” Trump has derided him as “Sleepy Joe” and said his mental capacity was “shot” as the president’s allies sought to portray Biden as senile. If elected, Biden would be 78 years old upon inauguration on Jan. 20. Trump, 74, was the oldest person to assume the presidency when he was sworn in at age 70 in 2017. Biden unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008 before finally securing his party’s blessing this year with strong support among Black voters. He brings to his political career a mix of blue-collar credentials, foreign policy experience and a compelling life story marked by family tragedy – the loss of his first wife and a daughter in a car crash, and a son to cancer. Biden arrived in Washington as a young upstart. He was elected in 1972 at age 29 to the US Senate from Delaware and remained there for 36 years before serving from 2009 to 2017 as vice president under Barack Obama, the country’s first Black president. Trump has sought to turn Biden’s experience into a liability, denouncing him as a career politician. Trump has said Biden would become a puppet of the Democratic Party’s “radical left.” The coronavirus pandemic has been front and center in the presidential race. Biden accuses Trump of surrendering in the face of the public health crisis, saying the president panicked and tried to wish away the virus rather than do the hard work needed to get it under control, leaving the economy in shambles and millions of people jobless. Trump, who was hospitalized for three days after contracting COVID-19, has mocked Biden for regularly wearing a face mask to guard against the pathogen’s spread. ‘THE SOUL OF THIS NATION’ After serving as vice president, Biden opted not to run for president in 2016, only to watch Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. When Biden announced his 2020 candidacy in April 2019, he took aim at Trump. “We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said, adding that if re-elected Trump would “forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation – who we are – and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.” Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris – whose father is an immigrant from Jamaica and whose mother is an immigrant from India – as his running mate, making her the first Black woman and first person of Asian descent on a major-party US ticket. At 56, Harris is a generation younger than Biden. An effort by Trump to dig up dirt on Biden resulted in the president’s impeachment in the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives in December 2019. The two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – stemmed from Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Biden and his son Hunter on unsubstantiated corruption allegations. In February, the Senate, controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, acquitted him of the charges after refusing to call any witnesses.