When President Obama nominated Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to be U.S. secretary of agriculture, it was a risky choice. Farmer Joe Biden went down to defeat that same year.
And then the Democrats lost both chambers of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections.
When President Obama nominated Biden to be vice president, they were, at the time, likely banking on a “re-Biden” strategy to help turn back the tide of defeat.
In the four years since, however, Mr. Biden and Mr. Vilsack have had very different job experiences.
Mr. Vilsack left politics after the defeat and formed a private business with a farmer friend to provide seed and fertilizer to farmers around the country.
Mr. Biden returned to his home state to play a round of golf in South Bend, Ind., after losing his 1994 reelection campaign.
Four years later, in 2011, Mr. Biden surprised the nation when he announced his intent to run for president. He lost in the Democratic primary to eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
Despite the differences in their terms of service, the two have a few things in common — such as both being named after political families, and both thinking about taking their own political lives forward.
Mr. Vilsack accepted the appointment to be secretary of agriculture in early 2009, soon after Mr. Obama was sworn in, taking over from current secretary Sonny Perdue.
In June of 2011, Mr. Biden announced his intention to run for president, after what he said was a “long and deep internal analysis.”
“And the bottom line was, I don’t think I’m ready,” he said.
The decision was a blow to Democrats, who were hoping to ride his legacy into a new presidential era.
When he was running, Mr. Biden said he would run on his own record as the architect of his family’s longtime career in politics.
“I believe I have more experience in dealing with national and international issues, for instance, than anybody running,” he said.
When Mr. Trump, who could not persuade Mr. Vilsack to stay on, was elected, he became the first president ever to have his own family member appoint someone to the job.
Indeed, much of Mr. Trump’s focus has been on filling his cabinet with prominent Republicans, sometimes saying with a grin that he would pick “the best, the brightest, the most successful people.”
Mr. Biden and Mr. Vilsack remain close.
During Mr. Biden’s birthday celebration last weekend, the governor sent a long message on Twitter, wishing him well: “Don’t ever go away. We can’t wait to see you. We love you and wish you the best in this next chapter of your life.”