Former Vice President Joe Biden officially threw his hat into the ring on Thursday, joining a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates.
The 76-year old Biden is hoping that his name recognition, status as an elder statesman, and appeal to labor organizations and working class voters will lift him above the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, candidates who have dominated early conversation. He will also make the case that his background puts him in a better position to defeat President Donald Trump and to win back working class white voters who backed the Republican in 2016.
Biden made his announcement in a campaign video, saying “The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America, America, is at stake.”
However, Biden faces many hurdles. He is perceived as a centrist at a time when his party his moving toward the left. Biden also is an older white man in an era when many Democrats want to elevate a candidate of color or a female standard bearer.
Biden’s video message focused on Trump’s response to the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he appeared to be sympathetic to white supremacists.
“He said there were quote some very fine people on both sides,” Biden said. “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. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.”
The video underscored Biden’s message that he’s a candidate who can defeat Trump. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” Biden said.
Later on Thursday, Trump responded to Biden’s entrance into the race, invoking a nickname for his potential rival.
“Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” Trump wrote. “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 waited for months to announce his candidacy, as other contenders staffed up their campaigns, courted donors and generated media buzz. He joins the race at the top or near the top in polls, a position that could make him a target for his rivals, especially at the first presidential primary debate in late June. With his entry into the race, the Democratic field of serious contenders now numbers 20, a record.
His campaign announced a schedule of travel starting with a speech on Pittsburgh on Monday, and later visits to Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire and Philadelphia.
Biden also is expected to draw significant support from Hollywood, as he frequently traveled to Los Angeles to raise money for party committee, other candidates and the Obama-Biden campaigns. Last October, he raised money for his political action committee, American Possibilities, at an event hosted by Jeffrey Katzenberg and drawing figures such as Byron Allen, Paramount’s Jim Gianopulos and Sony’s Tom Rothman.
In recent weeks, Biden has been tapping well-known fundraisers during the Obama years to host events.
He will be in Los Angeles on May 8, when he will attend a fundraiser at the home of James Costos, the former U.S. Ambassador to Spain and a former HBO executive, and his husband, interior designer Michael Smith.