Former Vice President Joe Biden announced his presidential candidacy on Thursday, April 25th by pointing to a “battle for the soul of this nation,” in what may be the last major addition to a sprawling lineup of Democratic candidates competing to challenge President Trump in 2020.
The former vice president and Democratic senator from Delaware announced his candidacy in a three-and-a-half-minute video released Thursday, April 26th. His first rally as a presidential contender is scheduled for Monday at a union hall in Pittsburgh.
Biden, 76, had been wrestling for months over whether to run. His candidacy will face numerous questions, including whether he is too old and too centrist for a Democratic Party yearning for fresh faces and increasingly propelled by its more vocal liberal wing.
“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said in the video. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. 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.”
Biden hopes that he can win back white, working-class voters in Midwestern states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He rarely misses a chance to tout his blue-collar hometown of Scranton, and aides believe he is one of the few candidates in the race who could claw back rural counties that Trump won in a landslide in 2016.
The Wall Street Journal reports, Biden has sought to secure commitments for large-dollar donations in the weeks before his announcement. His plan, the Journal reported, was to announce a similarly large fundraising haul as candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke, without the small-dollar donor network of some of his rivals.
Critics say his standing in polls is largely a function of name recognition for the former US senator from Delaware, whose more than four decades in public service includes eight years as President Barack Obama‘s No. 2 in the White House.
Known for his verbal gaffes on the campaign trail, Biden failed to gain traction with voters during his previous runs in 1988 and 2008. He dropped his 1988 bid amid allegations he plagiarized some of his stump oratory and early academic work. But his experience and strong debate performances in 2008 impressed Obama enough that he tapped Biden as his running mate.
Biden decided against a 2016 presidential bid after a lengthy public period of indecision as he wrestled with doubts about whether he and his family were ready for a grueling campaign while mourning his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in May 2015. His son had urged him to run.
Biden’s candidacy will offer early hints about whether Democrats are more interested in finding a centrist who can win over the white working-class voters who went for Trump in 2016, or someone who can fire up the party’s diverse progressive wing, such as Senators Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
As former Vice President Joe Biden entered the 2020 presidential race Thursday, he immediately looked past the vast field of Democratic rivals and threw down the gauntlet toward President Trump, casting the race as a “battle for the soul of the nation.” His strategy amounts to a bet that ideology and policy matter less to Democratic primary voters than their desire for victory over a president who has upended social and political values that liberals hold dear.