Former VP Joe Biden launches 2020 presidential bid

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, shaking up the wide-open race to defeat President Trump.

"I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time," Biden said in a video announcing his White House bid.

"But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation – who we are – and I cannot stand by and watch that happen."

His announcement offered a preview of the core message of his campaign: that Trump's presidency has left the country in a state of crisis that only an experienced leader like himself can quell.

"Everything that has made America America is at stake," Biden said. "That’s why today I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States."

"We have to remember who we are," he added. "This is America."

Biden, 76, began his announcement by recounting the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. and Trump’s remark in its aftermath that there were “some very fine people on both sides,” referring to rally-goers and counter-protesters alike.

“With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it,” Biden said. “And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I’d ever seen in my lifetime."

The former vice president will not hit the campaign trail immediately. He’s planning a multi-week rollout beginning on Monday with a speech in Pittsburgh, Pa. and followed by trips to Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, California and New Hampshire.

ABC News is reporting that he will appear Friday on “The View.”

Biden, who’s been considering a White House bid for months, enters the Democratic primary as a heavyweight in an already crowded field.

But he also enters the race with some baggage, including questions about whether he is progressive enough for a party that has veered left since he was last in the White House and allegations that he inappropriately touched women.

Biden has been signaling a likely run for months, arguing that he believed he's the “most qualified” person to challenge Trump.

This will be Biden’s third time running for the White House, after unsuccessful campaigns in 1988 and 2008. He ultimately decided to forgo running for president in 2016 after his son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer in 2015.

Since leaving the Obama White House, Biden has focused on his initiative to fight cancer and also spent time on the campaign trail as a surrogate in 2016 and 2018.

He had a heavy travel schedule leading up to the 2018 midterms to help Democrats take back Congress.

For months, Biden’s pending entrance into the presidential race loomed over the Democratic primary field and complicated the ambitions of other would-be candidates.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, for instance, ultimately decided not to mount campaigns. They would have likely occupied the same consensus-minded lane that Biden is expected to run in.

Biden enters the Democratic nomination contest with an early edge, leading several early horse race polls and having strong national name recognition.

The former vice president represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years and has developed friendships with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Prior to his announcement, he earned a number of early endorsements from Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Biden is seen as someone who would be able to appeal to white working-class voters and win back voters in Rust Belt states who supported Trump in 2016, and is feared as a serious challenger by some Republicans.

While he has some early advantages, Biden still faces a long slog to the Democratic nomination, as many base voters look for fresher faces who support a progressive agenda.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are among more than half a dozen candidates who have announced their bids for the Democratic nomination.

By holding out on an announcement, Biden will also get a late start in the money race. Most other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination have already had weeks, if not months, to fundraise, meaning Biden will have to play catch-up as he looks to assemble a war chest.

There are also signs that Biden may not be able to rely on the same fundraisers that backed his 2008 and 2012 campaigns with former President Barack Obama.

Five former ambassadors who served in the Obama administration and raised millions for the Obama-Biden ticket are slated to hold a fundraiser for South Bend, Ind. Pete Buttigieg, who has seen his stock in the presidential contest rise in recent weeks, next month.

And while Biden has routinely led the Democratic pack in early surveys, other, lesser-known contenders like Buttigieg have risen in the polls in recent weeks, suggesting that voters, especially those in early-voting states, haven’t yet locked in their support for the former vice president.

Biden will also need to navigate a primary contest where candidates have moved farther to the left on a host of policy issues.

Most presidential candidates have staked out progressive positions like support for a Medicare for all single-payer health care system and free tuition for public colleges and universities.

Biden is likely to face questions from Democrats about past support for legislation like the 1994 crime bill and his vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq in 2002.

The former vice president has also faced recent allegations from women that he touched them inappropriately. Biden has defended his behavior as affectionate and supportive and he did not apologize for his past actions, prompting a new round of criticism that clouded his campaign-in-waiting.

And he's faced scrutiny over his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony against now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at a time when the #MeToo movement has raised intense scrutiny about allegations of sexual harassment.

He has since expressed regret for not stopping attacks from GOP lawmakers and said in a 2017 interview that he owed Hill an apology.

Biden is also likely to face questions about his age. If he won the presidency, he’d be 78 when assuming office in January 2021, making him the oldest person to occupy the Oval Office.

Within minutes of his announcement, Republicans went on the attack, casting Biden as a failed politician with multiple failed presidential runs already under his belt.

“Joe Biden has been running for president and losing since the ‘80s. 2020 won’t be any different,” Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said.

“Biden’s fingerprints are all over foreign policy blunders and the weakest economic recovery since World War II,” he continued. “We don’t need eight more years of Biden. Just ask President Obama, who isn’t even endorsing his right-hand man.”

Katie Hill, a spokesperson for Obama, issued a statement on Thursday praising Biden's tenure as vice president, though it stopped short of endorsing his White House bid.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Hill said. “He relied on the vice president’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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