Biden lets America know that help is on the way

“This is America.” That is the last line in the video former Vice President Joe Biden launched this morning in his long-anticipated 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate announcement.  

The video was incredibly compelling as it spoke to a moment in our history that rocked the soul and conscience of the country — the march of white nationalists in Charlottesville that pit neo-Nazis against counter-protesters who marched against hate and racism.

The horrible conflict was followed by Trump’s deplorable comments equating the two groups, saying, “There were fine people on both sides.”

As an immigrant Latina who’s raising bilingual Latino children and whose heart has been broken, along with countless other Americans at what this president is doing to the fabric of our country, Joe Biden’s words moved me and his message shook me to my core.  

His speech made me feel like there was help on the way from someone who truly understood just how much of an existential threat Donald Trump is to America.

Don’t get me wrong, I think any of the Democratic candidates would bring much-needed dignity, civility and honor back to our country. But in addition to knowing that in my head, Joe Biden made me feel it in my heart that he would be the one to do it.  

His video was a smart way to differentiate himself from the other candidates from the start. But it will not be easy for Biden. He is already being attacked by the more-progressive wing of Democrats for his record in the Senate, including his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.  

Biden also will have to continue answering questions that have recently come up about his actions that have made women feel uncomfortable when he is around them, acting way too touchy and familiar even when they are strangers.  

He fumbled on this issue a couple of times recently, leading women to think he is not taking his need to change seriously. I suspect he has learned his lesson and will indeed watch his behavior from here on out.  

But Biden achieved something Thursday morning that no other candidate has achieved nor probably is able to. He has now created the “stature gap” between himself, a former beloved vice president and 30-plus-year senator with lots of legislative accomplishments under his belt, and the field.  

Purposefully, he took President Trump head-on in his announcement video, and I suspect he will not be shy about continuing to do it on the stump. This also differentiates him from the rest of the field because no one else did this as brazenly or as directly as Biden did.  

Most of the other candidates talked about themselves as they saw the need for a more biographical introduction to the voters that a former vice president would not need to do.  

This doesn’t mean that Biden will get away with not presenting any policy proposals or laying out a more detailed vision for how he would lead this country. He will clearly need to do that.  

Then the difficult questions will come as to whether Biden is progressive enough to lead the new Democratic Party and get behind:

  • “Medicare for all,”
  • free college tuition,
  • reparations, and
  • the Green New Deal.

Or, will he talk aspiringly about all of these but offer alternative approaches that he hopes will be seen as more pragmatic and realistic?  

He also will face the question that the other white, male candidates have faced, namely: Why should communities of color, women and multicultural millennials support his candidacy if he does not look like them?   

All of these questions are fair. And it is what primaries are for. No candidate will get a pass, no matter his or her stature, nor should he or she.

But while Biden will have to explain some of his past comments, votes and actions, he also will be able to point to many legislative accomplishments that have helped women, communities of color, working-class people and all Americans live a better life.  

It is also noteworthy that Joe Biden seems to be the candidate that Republicans (and Trump) fear most. He can speak to the 70,000 voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who went the other way in 2016 that cost Hillary Clinton the election.  

I also believe he can speak to the progressives who are moving the party toward bolder solutions of opportunity and inclusion for all Americans. 

I have always been a huge fan of Joe Biden. He surpassed everyone’s expectations in his role as vice president, and the authentic and incredibly close relationship he and Dr. Jill Biden were able to nurture with President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama gave America a warm, fuzzy feeling.  

His announcement message moved me, and I think his coming rallies will underscore that this election is a battle for the soul of America and who we are as a country. I am sure he will fill in the need for specific policies as well and that all of it will be judged accordingly.  

Will I vote for Joe Biden? Maybe, maybe not. It is too early to say in a field of incredibly talented and historically diverse candidates. But I can tell you this: I am thrilled that he has jumped in the race and thrilled that along with several other candidates, he is speaking not just to my mind, but to my heart and soul.

In order to win, he now needs to do the same with the rest of Democratic Party voters, and then all Americans.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

Tags 1991 Anita Hill hearing 2020 Democratic candidates 2020 election Donald Trump Federal government of the United States Hillary Clinton Jill Biden Joe Biden Joe Biden 2008 presidential campaign Michelle Obama United States Senate United States Senators Vice President of the United States

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