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Friday, April 26, 2019

Former vice president Joe Biden jumps into White House race

Former vice president Joe Biden opened his third campaign for the presidency on Thursday, taking direct aim at President Trump and declaring that “we are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”
In a video posted on social media, Biden recounted the deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters at a 2017 gathering in Charlottesville, after which Trump said there were “some very fine people on both sides.”
“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in our lifetime,” Biden said, adding: “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.” 

As he joined a crowded Democratic field in which many candidates have staked out progressive positions on an array of issues, Biden made no mention of policy specifics in the 3½ -minute video, which also stood out for how directly he confronted Trump.
Biden, 76, who served for eight years as the second-in-command to the last Democrat to successfully seek the presidency, holds a strong position in early polls, but the trajectory of his campaign is uncertain.
Biden made his announcement hours before a major campaign fundraiser was to take place in Philadelphia. His first campaign event, union-themed, is planned Monday in Pittsburgh, a Democratic city whose suburbs and exurbs are filled with the sort of voters who abandoned the Democratic Party to side with Trump in 2016. 
After that, his campaign said, Biden will travel to several early nominating states.
Biden, who made his first bid for the White House more than 30 years ago, is scheduled to appear Friday on “The View,” in what the ABC program said in a tweet would be his first sit-down interview since announcing his candidacy.
Trump responded to Biden’s entrance about two hours after he announced.
“Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” he wrote on Twitter. “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!”
A Democratic force for nearly five decades, Biden built his career as a campaigner on his connection with working-class voters, including white voters he has sometimes called “the ethnic vote” — Midwestern Irish, Italian and Polish Catholics, or South Florida Jews. His campaign style tends toward the populism of Franklin Roosevelt, railing against those with money and power who he claims work against the needs of middle-class Americans.
“They don’t understand us middle-class folks,” Biden thundered repeatedly from the stump in 2012, when he was campaigning against then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
After Trump’s election in 2016, Biden made clear that he believed the cause was a failure by Democrats to connect with working voters.
“You didn’t hear a single solitary sentence in the last campaign about that guy working on the assembly line making 60,000 bucks a year and a wife making $32,000 as a hostess in restaurant,” he said in a 2017 appearance at the University of Pennsylvania.
At the same time, Biden also is expected to play up — and benefit from — his tenure as vice president to the nation’s first black president. In early polling, Biden has been popular among black voters, who make up a dominant Democratic voting bloc in many states. Former president Barack Obama has indicated, however, that he will not make an early endorsement in the race
n a statement shortly after the release of Biden’s video, an Obama spokeswoman praised Biden’s tenure as vice president but stopped short of offering the former president’s endorsement.
“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” said Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill. “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.”
Speaking briefly to reporters Thursday at the Amtrak station in Wilmington, Del., Biden said he had asked Obama not to make an endorsement in the Democratic nominating contest.
Whoever wins the nomination should win it on their own merits,” Biden said.
Asked why he’s the best choice for Democrats, Biden said, “That will be for the Democrats to decide.”
He later made a brief appearance at a Wilmington restaurant where he ordered a pepperoni pizza to go and mingled with patrons.
As he finalized his run, Biden was buffeted by scrutiny for a wide range of positions that, in some cases, were in line with Democratic orthodoxy long ago but are now out of step — a circumstance that may presage what awaits him in the campaign.
Those include support for antibusing legislation in the 1970s, his role handling the testimony of Anita Hill during Senate hearings to confirm Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice, and his arm-twisting on behalf of a crime bill in the 1990s. He has attempted to address some of those issues in recent weeks but has often stumbled.
“To this day, I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved,” Biden said last month of the hearings on Thomas’s nomination, which he directed as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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