Valerie Biden Owens is former Vice President Joe Biden’s younger sister and has managed all of his political campaigns over the past several decades. On her professional website, Owens describes herself as her brother’s “principle surrogate on the campaign trail” and has staunchly defended him against attacks from President Donald Trump.
Owens has a political career of her own in addition to assisting the former vice president. Owens has previously served as a senior advisor at the United Nations. She’s been a leader within the Democratic National Committee, serving on the National Board of the Women’s Leadership Forum. She has worked for more than two decades with Women’s Campaign International, which works to empower women in developing democratic nations. On the other side of the political sphere, Owens advised candidates on how to craft their messaging as the Executive Vice President of a media consulting firm called Joe Slade White & CO.
Here’s what you need to know about Valerie Biden Owens.
1. Valerie Biden Owens Describes President Trump as ‘Unhinged’ & Says That His Attacks On the Biden Family Show That He Is Afraid of Losing to Joe Biden In 2020
Valerie Biden Owens has defended her brother and the rest of the family against verbal attacks from President Trump. During a campaign event in October 2019, Owens described the commander-in-chief as “unhinged.” She was referencing the president’s criticism against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in relation to Hunter Biden’s former business dealings in Ukraine.
Owens remarked that the constant attacks prove that President Trump believes Joe Biden will be the Democratic presidential nominee and could win the 2020 election, according to Buzzfeed News. She told the group of voters, “The part that is, not refreshing — hopeful to me, or makes me feel good, is that Trump thinks that we’re the guy to beat. It’s perverse, it’s backward. But he’s coming after us. I don’t want to protest too much, but the press has done their job on this. We haven’t had to do it.”
Owens added that her older brother handles the insults better than she does. “This is really not about my family. He has chosen my family to be the vehicle that he can [use to] influence the election.”
2. Valerie Biden Moved In & Helped to Raise Her Nephews, Beau & Hunter, After Her Brother’s First Wife Died In a Car Crash In 1972
Valerie Biden stepped up in a major way after Joe Biden suffered the loss of his wife, Neilia Hunter, and infant daughter Naomi Christina in 1972. Both were killed in a car crash that year, shortly after Biden won his first Senate race. Neila had taken the children to pick out a Christmas tree when their car was struck by a truck. Sons Beau and Hunter were both injured in the crash but recovered.
The former vice president explained in his autobiography, “Promises to Keep,” that his younger sister was instrumental in helping him and the rest of the family move forward after such a devastating loss. He wrote that Valerie “was the cornerstone that allowed me to sustain and then rebuild my family. When Neila died, my sister was the person I trusted completely with my sons.”
Valerie and her first husband, Bruce, moved in with Joe Biden and his sons in order to provide the care that Beau and Hunter needed. She quit her teaching job in order to be there full-time. The former VP wrote, “She knew and loved the boys like they were her own.” Valerie lived with her brother and her nephews for four years. During that time, she got divorced, remarried, and had a daughter of her own.
3. Joe Biden Helped to Fix His Sister Up With Her Current Husband, Jack Owens
Joe Biden explained in his memoir that his sister felt guilty hen her first marriage to Bruce Saunders fell apart. The couple had gotten married after she graduated from the University of Delaware and he returned from a tour in Vietnam. Biden remarked in his book that Valerie Biden and her first husband largely lived “separate lives” even when they were living with Biden and his sons.
Joe Biden played a large role in setting up his sister with her second husband, Jack Owens. Owens and Biden had been close friends during law school at Syracuse.
Valerie had actually already met Jack Owens years earlier. They had gone on a blind date in Syracuse due to urging from Biden and Neila Hunter. Neila had told Valerie at the time, “I promise you, Valerie, if I could pick any guy in the world for you, it would be Jack Owens.”
But the date did not go well; Valerie thought Jack was arrogant and he thought she was stuck-up, according to Biden’s memoir. Years later, they bickered throughout Biden’s first senatorial campaign.
The former VP wrote that months after he had been elected to the Senate, he felt a bit nervous about inviting Owens over for dinner. “Neither of them would let go of the memories of their disastrous blind date at Syracuse or of their epic fights during the Senate campaign.”
But Biden said Valerie and Owens became friends over a period of several months and eventually fell in love. He said that Valerie warmed to Jack after watching him “be such a good friend” to Joe following Neila’s death.
Valerie Biden and Jack Owens have been married for more than four decades and have three grown children together.
4. Valerie Biden Owens Began Managing Her Brother’s Campaigns Beginning In High School When He Ran For Class President
Joe Biden described his sister Valerie as his “best friend” in his autobiography. Biden Owens explained to the New York Times in 2008 that she was her older brother’s “sidekick” and loved to follow him around when they were children.
As teenagers, Biden Owens had her first experience managing a political campaign. She organized Joe Biden’s campaign when he decided to run for class president during high school. That trend continued into adulthood.
She managed all of his local campaigns in Delaware, his Senate campaigns and both of his previous runs for president. Biden Owens did not have an official role during the 2008 and 2012 elections but remained a vital advisor to her brother. Biden’s press secretary at the time described Valerie as Joe’s “political alter-ego and confidante.”
5. Valerie Biden Owens Is Not Managing Her Brother’s 2020 Campaign
Valerie Biden Owens does not have an official role with her brother’s 2020 presidential campaign, although she is advocating for him on the trail. Greg Schultz, Biden’s former senior adviser in the White House, has the title of campaign manager.
Biden Owens now serves as the Vice-Chair of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, a role she has held since 2017. On her professional website, she explains that the Institute’s mission is to “influence, shape, and work to solve the most pressing domestic policy problems facing America.”
Biden Owens also serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. Beau Biden, who passed away in 2015 from cancer, was active in working to raise awareness and prevent child abuse. The non-profit organization is described as “honoring Beau Biden’s life’s work to protect children.”