Former United States Vice President Joe Biden joined a crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field on Thursday, officially announcing his candidacy in a video posted on his social media accounts.
The announcement follows months of speculation over whether Biden, a Democratic party stalwart and an early leader in opinion polls, would launch a bid for his party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
Biden served eight years as vice president under President Barack Obama and 36 years in the US Senate. At 76, he is the second oldest candidate in the Democratic nominating contests, after 77-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders.
Biden will likely be a key figure in the Democratic debate over whether a liberal political newcomer or a centrist veteran is needed to win back the White House.
“The core values of this nation … our standing in the world … our very democracy … everything that has made America – America – is at stake,” the announcement said.
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. #Joe2020 https://t.co/jzaQbyTEz3
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 25, 2019
Biden, who relishes his “Middle-Class Joe” nickname and touts his working-class roots, made unsuccessful bids for the nomination in 1988 and 2008.
With a record in elected office that stretches half a century, Biden faces multiple challenges.
Last month he struggled to respond to comments from Lucy Flores, a 2014 lieutenant governor nominee in Nevada, who said he made her uncomfortable by touching her shoulders and kissing the back of her head before a campaign event. Several other women have made similar claims.
In a video, Biden pledged to be “more mindful” of respecting “personal space”, but Flores told Fox News this week that the former senator’s jokes on the matter have been “so incredibly disrespectful”.
The incident is just a glimpse of the harsh vetting from both Democrats and Republicans expected for Biden, who has run for president twice before but never from such a strong political starting point.
His first White House bid in 1988 ended after a plagiarism scandal. And in recent weeks, he was repeatedly forced to explain his 1991 decision, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, to allow Anita Hill to face questions about her allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court. Biden has since apologised for his role in the hearing.
Some liberal activists have also criticised Biden’s senate record, including his authorship of the 1994 crime act that led to increased incarceration rates, and his ties to the financial industry, which is prominent in his home state of Delaware.
On paper, however, Biden may be well positioned to take on Trump in a general election.
The Republican president’s allies have privately warned that Biden might be the biggest threat to Trump’s reelection given Biden’s potential appeal among the white working class in the Midwest, the same region that helped Trump win the presidency.
Biden joins a field of 19 other candidates who have officially announced their candidacy.
This includes: Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kristen Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Wyne Messam, Seth Moulton, Reto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.