Joe Biden launches 2020 White House bid

Former Vice President Joe Biden formally joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest on Thursday.

By Associated Press

In a video posted on Twitter, Former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election.

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

As he neared his campaign launch, Biden’s challenges have come into greater focus.

He struggled last month 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.

Biden, a former U.S. senator from Delaware, 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.

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

Notwithstanding questions regarding his physical contact with woman, 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. He quickly racked up endorsements on Thursday morning, becoming the first Democrat running for president with the backing of more than one U.S. senator.

Still, Biden must compete in a field that now spans at least 20 Democrats and has been celebrated for its racial and gender diversity. As an older white man with occasionally centrist views, Biden has to prove he’s not out of step with his party.

He’s yet to outline his positions on the issues defining the 2020 Democratic primary, most notably “Medicare for All,” the universal health care plan authored by Sanders that has been adopted by virtually the entire Democratic field.

The native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is betting that his ties to Barack Obama’s presidency will help him convince skeptics.

Just minutes after the announcement, the GOP raised Biden’s record in the Obama administration.

“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 took the unusual step of weighing 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.”

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 his native Pennsylvania, a state that swung to Trump in 2016 after voting for Democratic presidential candidates for decades. While Biden represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years, he was often referred to as Pennsylvania’s third senator.