Biden says he will run for president in 2020: ‘We have to remember who we are’

Former Vice President Joe Biden formally entered the Democratic race for the White House on Thursday, saying in a video message that the country could not afford to see President Trump reelected.

Biden, who hesitated for months about entering the race and faces skepticism from some liberals in the party, is expected to cast himself as the candidate best equipped to defeat Trump in the general election.

“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 the video announcement. “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.

{mosads}”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.”

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 rallygoers and counterprotesters 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 multiweek rollout beginning on Monday with a speech in Pittsburgh, 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 enters the Democratic primary as a heavyweight in an already crowded field, but also carries baggage.

The Democratic Party has veered left since the end of the Obama presidency, and polls show the former vice president will face a fierce contest with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose “Medicare for All” health care plan has increasingly been embraced by the party.

Biden is also dealing with the fallout of controversies surrounding allegations from several women that he violated their personal space and inappropriately touched or kissed them. The vice president sought to end that controversy last month, but stumbled while joking about it at a Washington event.

Biden’s handling of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation and Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment have also been criticized. He has since expressed regret for not stopping attacks from GOP lawmakers against Hill and said in a 2017 interview that he owed Hill an apology.

His past support for a crime bill blamed for mass incarcerations of African Americans, as well as his support for the Iraq War, are among the positions he will need to explain to a liberal base.

The progressive group Justice Democrats, which has pushed to challenge sitting Democrats who are not sufficiently progressive, quickly announced their opposition to his bid.

Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of the group , said that while her organization would ultimately support the eventual Democratic nominee, “we can’t let a so-called ‘centrist’ like Joe Biden divide the Democratic Party and turn it into the party of ‘No, we can’t.’”

“Life expectancy has decreased for a third straight year in our country. We need Democrats who will fight racism and inequality with solutions that match the scale of the crises we’re facing — not piecemeal compromises with corporate America and the party of Donald Trump,” she said in her statement.

Republicans also 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.

The vice president remains a popular political figure and is expected to tie his campaign heavily to the Obama years.

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.”

Since leaving the Obama White House, Biden has focused on his initiative to fight cancer and has 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 midterm elections to help Democrats take back Congress.

Biden enters the Democratic presidential primary with an early edge, leading in several 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.

There are questions about Biden’s fundraising prowess, however, and gaffes and mistakes have upset his past presidential runs.

This will be his third time running for the White House, after unsuccessful campaigns in 1988 and 2008. Both ended poorly, with the first maligned for a plagiarism controversy. In the second, Biden described Obama as “clean” and “articulate.”

He ultimately decided to forgo running for president in 2016 after his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.

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

Updated at 9:21 a.m.

Tags 2020 Bernie Sanders Biden campaign Democratic primary Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Joe Biden Katie Hill Presidential Race White House

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