POLITICS

Ex-Vice President Biden Launches 2020 Presidential Campaign

Apr 25, 2019, 5:32 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:10 pm
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the National Minority Quality Forum on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. Biden has announced he'll be running for president. (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden formally joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest on Thursday, declaring the soul of the nation at stake if President Donald Trump wins re-election.

In a video posted on Twitter , Biden focused on the 2017 deadly clash between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Biden noted Trump’s comments that there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent encounter, which left one woman dead.

“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 had seen in my lifetime.”

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden continued. “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.”

The 76-year-old Biden becomes an instant front-runner alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading many polls and has proved to be a successful fundraiser . Among Democrats, Biden has unmatched international and legislative experience, and he is among the best-known faces in U.S. politics.

Biden is betting that his working-class appeal and ties to Barack Obama’s presidency will help him overcome questions about his place in today’s increasingly liberal Democratic Party. Obama did not endorse Biden on Thursday but did take the unusual step of weighing in on the race. An Obama spokeswoman said selecting Biden as his running mate in 2008 was “one of the best decisions he ever made.”

Biden’s announcement marks the unofficial end of the chaotic early phase of the 2020 presidential season. The field now features at least 20 Democrats jockeying for the chance to take on Trump next year. Several lesser-known candidates may still join the race.

But the anti-establishment wave that swept Trump into office has not been kind to either party’s statesmen. Biden’s team worries about his fundraising ability and his tendency to commit gaffes. His centrist approach in a party moving left on major policy debates raises questions about his appeal.

Four years Trump’s senior, Biden would be the oldest person ever elected president should he win. Yet his allies believe the skeptics will ultimately warm to his strong connections to the Obama years.

Biden has said he would campaign as an “Obama-Biden Democrat,” who is as pragmatic as he is progressive. He’s aiming to be a conduit between working-class white voters and the younger, more diverse voters who backed Obama in historic numbers.

Just minutes after the announcement, the GOP lashed out against Biden’s record in the Obama administration, a line of attack in sharp contrast with recent criticism against other 2020 Democrats that has largely focused on them being too liberal, or even socialists.

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

While it’s true that Obama hasn’t explicitly endorsed Biden’s bid, the former president weighed in on Thursday’s announcement through a spokeswoman.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie 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.”

Biden’s team also touted immediate endorsements from Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. None of the other Democrats running for president has the backing of more than one U.S. senator.

Privately, Trump allies have warned that Biden might be the biggest re-election threat given the former vice president’s potential appeal among the white working class in the Midwest, the region that gave Trump a path to the presidency.

Biden is paying special attention to Pennsylvania, a state that swung to Trump in 2016 after voting for Democratic presidential candidates for decades.

The former vice president will be in the state three times within the opening weeks of his campaign. He’ll be in Philadelphia on Thursday evening headlining a fundraiser at the home of David L. Cohen, executive senior vice president of Comcast. Biden is aiming to raise $500,000 at the event.

He will hold an event in Pittsburgh on Monday and will return to Philadelphia in the next two weeks for a major rally.

He’s scheduled to make his first media appearance as a 2020 presidential contender Friday morning on ABC’s “The View.”

With a record that stretches half a century, Biden’s challenges are easy to find.

Most recently, he struggled to respond to claims that he touched 2014 Nevada lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores’ shoulders and kissed the back of her head before a fall campaign event. A handful of other women have made similar claims, though none has alleged sexual misconduct.

Biden initially said he didn’t recall the Flores incident but credited her with coming forward. He took a different approach in a subsequent statement, saying, “Never did I believe I acted inappropriately.”

Biden later pledged in an online video to be “much more mindful” of respecting personal space but joked two days later that he “had permission”to hug a male union leader before addressing the group’s national conference.

The episode offered a stark reminder of Biden’s proclivity to gaffes and his long record in public office that has never felt the full glare of the spotlight that comes along with being a presidential front-runner.

His first White House bid in 1988 ended after a plagiarism scandal. He dropped out of the 2008 race after earning less than 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Later that year, Obama named Biden as his running mate.

More recently, Biden’s willingness to work with Republicans has caused him political headaches.

He was forced to walk back a comment last month that Vice President Mike Pence is “a decent guy” after intense blowback from liberal activists upset with Pence’s opposition to gay rights.

In recent weeks, Biden also has been repeatedly forced to explain his 1991 decision, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, to allow Anita Hill to face difficult questions from an all-male panel about allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, who later was confirmed to the high court.

Biden has since apologized for his role in the hearing. But in the #MeToo era, particularly after the contentious confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the episode remains a significant political liability.

Likewise, Biden once played a key role in anti-crime legislation that had a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans. And while several 2020 Democratic contenders have embraced the possibility of reparations to African Americans for slavery in recent weeks, Biden last month struggled to explain comments he made as a freshman senator in 1975 about the school busing debate.

Biden’s 2020 bid comes four years after he opted against challenging Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic contest.

In a book he wrote about conversations with his dying son, he opened up about the difficult choice to sit out the last presidential race: abandon a careerlong quest for the presidency or lose precious time with a family he’d held together through tragedy, from his first wife’s and his daughter’s deaths in a 1972 car accident to son Beau Biden’s 2015 death from cancer.

“He was worried that what I’d worked on my whole life, the things that mattered to me the most since I was a kid, that I’d walk away,” Biden said of his son.

Ultimately, the draw to take on Trump in 2020 was too strong.

___

Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Politics

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 04: People wait in line for early voting for the midterm elections at P...
CNN

Early voting begins in Georgia, kicking off Senate runoff race 

A week-long early voting period begins Saturday in some Georgia counties as Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker enter a week-and-a-half, post-Thanksgiving sprint to their December 6 runoff election.
2 days ago
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West stand together in ...
CNN

Ye announces 2024 presidential bid, after dinner with former President Donald Trump

Kanye West posted several videos on Twitter Thursday, claiming he met with former President Donald Trump asking him to be his running mate.
2 days ago
Kari Lake on podium at election night event....
JONATHAN J. COOPER Associated Press

Lake seeks election records in suit against Arizona county

Kari Lake, the defeated Republican candidate for Arizona governor, has filed a public records lawsuit demanding Maricopa County hand over a variety of documents related to the election. Lake has refused to acknowledge that she lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs and has for weeks drawn attention to voters who said they experienced long lines and difficulties while voting on Election Day in Arizona's largest county. Her lawyer, Tim LaSota, says in the suit filed Wednesday that the county has not fulfilled public records requests filed on Nov. 15 and 16. The requests seek to identify voters who may have had trouble casting a ballot.
2 days ago
Ticketmaster website...
BROOKE SCHULTZ Associated Press/Report for America

Taylor Swift ticket trouble could drive political engagement

On the heels of a messy ticket rollout for Taylor Swift's first tour in years, fans are angry. They're also energized against Ticketmaster. While researchers agree that there's no way to tell how long the energy could last, the outrage shows a way for young people to become more politically engaged through fan culture. This isn't even the first time a fandom or an artist has targeted Ticketmaster. And Swifties say it's not just about getting a ticket. The ticket debacle has spurred broader conversations about economic inequality and political action.
6 days ago
Riley Williams, a Pennsylvania woman who barged into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's offices on Januar...
Holmes Lybrand, CNN

Woman who barged into Pelosi’s office in Jan. 6 attack convicted

The Pennsylvania woman who barged into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's offices on January 6, 2021, was found guilty on Monday of multiple counts she faced over the Capitol attack.
7 days ago
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a news conference after visiting the Holocaust Mu...
Associated Press

Elon Musk’s Twitter reinstates Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Elon Musk's Twitter has reinstated the personal account of far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who was banned in January for violating the platform's COVID misinformation policies at the time.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Ex-Vice President Biden Launches 2020 Presidential Campaign