It was when Robert Markel and Joe Biden were 13 years old that the two got to know each other.

They have grown up together - Markel used to drive Biden to school, they were marshals at each other's weddings and even today they are often heard from.

- I remember when we were sitting in the living room at Joe's house, and another of our friends said "I think Joe wants to be president".

With his mother sitting there, Joe basically confirmed it, says Markel.

Moe Vela, a former senior adviser when Biden was vice president, describes him as responsive.

- It was one of the first things I noticed about him as my boss.

He wants information and asks for it, then he takes it in and draws his own conclusion, he says.

Teased at school

But friends have not only shared happy times but also sadness.

The media has often described how it characterized Joe Biden, but Markel points to something else as the most formative: Biden's stuttering as a child that he was teased too much.

- After a summer, he came back to school and no longer stuttered, it was an incredible transformation.

But I think it affected him a lot.

Internal criticism of Biden

But while Biden's friends loyally pay tribute to Biden, not everyone shares their enthusiasm.

Biden leads in public opinion but is not only criticized by Trump supporters, there is dissatisfaction in his own ranks as well.

Biden has been described as boring, too old with his 77 years, and he has also been accused of inappropriately touching women, for which he himself has had to go out and apologize.

The internal criticism comes especially from the Democrats' left flank, who believe that Biden is too right-wing.

Necessary compromise

The friends take Biden in defense when SVT asks about the criticism of him, personally and politically.

Biden is, according to them, the candidate who can unite anyone who disapproves of Trump, albeit as a compromise candidate.

At the same time, Moe Vela defends herself against the idea that Biden is only running as an "anti-Trump".

- It's not Joe Biden's campaign either.

He has a plan for every issue and challenge that our country faces.

Watch the interviews with friends, experienced guests and an exciting discussion about Joe Biden and his candidacy in this week's episode of the Foreign Office, the first of the season.

You can see the section here.