'It's in his roots' - Biden's childhood home

STORY: As their recent clash over mask-wearing makes plain, U.S. President, Donald Trump, and his Democrat opponent, Vice President Joe Biden, might as well come from different worlds.

And in many ways, they do. Trump was born and raised in a five-bedroom, brick-fronted home in a wealthy enclave in the New York City borough of Queens. Biden, for his part, was born and spent the first decade of his life in a far humbler home in the rust belt town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, located some 120 miles (200 km) to the northwest of New York City.

Even though his family left Scranton when he was 10, Biden has retained strong ties to his hometown and has often identified with it throughout his political career. He's also maintained close ties with locals, including the Kearns family that bought Biden's childhood home in 1953. The Kearns family showed the home to Reuters during a recent visit.

Biden, in fact, has continued to make regular visits over the years, such as during his 2008 campaign to become vice president, when he signed a wall in his family's old home.

But perhaps the only distinguishing characteristic of the blue single family home is the fact that a future vice president once lived there. The house is situated on a recognizable suburban block dotted with U.S. flags, an image easily replicated throughout the country.

The ground floor of family room and kitchen is complemented with upstairs bedrooms that were shared by siblings in both the Biden and Kearns families.

The everyman quality is at the heart of Biden's persona, Scranton locals said.

"Joe's [a] down to earth guy, a warm-hearted person from Scranton, Pennsylvania," said Bob Sheridan, the Democratic Party Chairman for Scranton. "And he brought his roots with him. His mind and his heart is with the people."

The Bidens famously left Scranton not out of choice, but necessity.

"Joe talks about the story of his father coming home to this house, coming up the steps and telling him about losing his job," said Chris Kearns, from those narrow steps. "So when you've gone through that as a life experience, there's no other way to understand the people who are going through that now."

Staying in the Middle Atlantic region, Biden spent much of his adult working life as a U.S. senator representing Delaware.

Serving from 1973 until he became vice president in 2009, Biden became known for his humility. He famously commuted via Amtrak daily from his home in Delaware to Washington. And for many of those years, he was among the poorest members of the U.S. Senate.

And while he has become wealthy in the years since leaving the vice presidency, Biden's played up his humble roots in the 2020 campaign, especially in comparison to Trump.

Just recently he tweeted, "Donald Trump sees the world from Park Avenue. I see the world from where I grew up: Scranton, Pennsylvania."

Scranton is the largest city in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, the state many political analysts say could be deciding in the November election.

Scranton was also thriving well into the middle of last century. By that time, it had already gained the nickname, "the Electric City," as it was home to the first electric streetcar network in the U.S. Scranton proceeded to benefit from booms in coal, textile and other sectors. But it has since seen its population halved to its current total of about 75,000 residents as decline set in much as it did across the rest of the U.S. Rust Belt.

Abandoned warehouses are easily visible throughout Scranton.

Trump famously pulled off narrow electoral victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, promising to bring blue collar jobs back to the economically depressed region. But with his reelection just weeks away, Trump trails in the polls in the area. And for many locals, it is Biden who connects best.

"He's from here, so he knows...We're out of a lot of money," Ashley Levandowski, who works at the Levels Bar & Grill in Scranton, told Reuters. "He knows what towns like this and other towns similar need."

Having made regular trips to Scranton over years, Biden has been sure to maintain ties to the Kearns family who live in his old home.

And according to family matriarch, Anne Kearns, locals always come by to relive memories with Biden. And the former vice president is more than happy to oblige, she said.

"He used to bring a lot of people here and they'd go out to the kitchen and he'd tell journalists all about his grandfather," she said. "And everything you hear him on TV, he'll say, 'My father used to say,' 'My mother used to say.' I have been hearing that for a long time. It's in his roots. It really is."

(Production by: Dan Fastenberg and Andrew Hofstetter)