Vice President Joe Biden smiles during a sound check at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., early Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Vice President Joe Biden has had one of the longest careers in politics, having been first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. Obama’s “wing man” has had his high and low moments, but over the course of his career he has built a strong brand as the “regular Joe” who connects with blue collar voters, and more recently, with African-Americans, as evidenced by the warm reception he received at this year’s NAACP convention.

On the night of what might be his most important debate so far, we recount the ups and downs of Joe.