Former Vice President Joe Biden, in an online video Thursday, officially declared his candidacy for president in 2020, capping off weeks of intrigue and media speculation.
He enters a crowded field of Democratic contenders aiming to unseat President Trump — nearly 32 years after he announced his first campaign for president. The campaign is Biden’s third for the White House, having also unsuccessfully run in 1988 and 2008.
“The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America — America — is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Biden tweeted early Thursday.
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With the announcement, which followed months of deliberations, Biden becomes a front-runner in an incredibly crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders all vying to face off next year against Trump.
The president welcomed Biden into the race, warning him that the race will be “nasty.”
“Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” Trump tweeted. “I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!”
Biden, along with independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — who is making his second straight White House run — have consistently topped the polls in the race for the Democratic nomination.
In Thursday’s video, the former vice president pointed to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017 at a large white nationalist rally, Biden took aim at Trump’s response that “there were some very fine people on both sides.”
“With those words, the president of the United assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it,” Biden charged. “And in that moment, I new the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in my lifetime. I wrote at the time that we’re in the battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that’s even more true today. We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”
Biden argued that “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.”
Fox News reported last week that the theme of the announcement would be ‘the battle for the soul of America.’
Biden is expected to follow up the announcement with his first high-dollar fundraiser in the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen Thursday evening and appear at a local union hall in Pittsburgh on Monday.
The former Delaware senator has for weeks been rallying potential donors in an effort to gain momentum, noting that Sanders and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas managed to raise $6 million within 24 hours of launching their candidacy.
The Biden campaign said that the former vice president will lay out his “vision for rebuilding America’s middle class” at the Pittsburgh event. Then he’s scheduled to travel to the four states that vote first in the primary and caucus nominating calendar. They add that Biden will hold a rally in Philadelphia on May 18, likely at the city’s Museum of Art – known nationally for the scene of the fictional Rocky Balboa’s training on the museum’s steps in the movie “Rocky.”
The start and finish of his initial campaign swing in Pennsylvania is no surprise. The state – long a crucial battleground in presidential elections – was one of the key states Trump flipped in the 2016 election to help him capture the White House.