Biden cites Charlottesville in his 2020 campaign launch
By Keya Vakil
April 25, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President on Thursday, becoming the 20th Democrat to seek the party’s nomination in 2020.

The former Senator from Delaware launched his campaign by releasing a video online that focused on the deadly Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville in August, 2017.

Biden recounts the protest and President Trump’s infamous response to it as a key impetus behind his campaign. In his video, Biden pointed to Trump’s statement that there were “some very fine people on both sides,” as the moment that he knew that America faced a serious threat.

“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.”

Biden’s own sister, Valerie Biden Owens, confirmed the Charlottesville incident’s impact on her brother’s decision, telling the Washington Post that “It really started percolating, and the essence of this was Charlottesville. I can tell you that was a major motivating moment for my brother, and the entire family.”

In his announcement video, Biden also did something some other candidates have avoided: directly confronting Trump.

By saying the “soul of this nation” is on the line, Biden made it clear that he views Trump as an existential threat to the United States.

In response, Trump tweeted, welcoming Biden to the race in typical Trump fashion:

This marks Biden’s third run for the Presidency, following unsuccessful attempts in 1988 and 2008.

The 76-year-old former Vice President immediately becomes one of the front runners in the race, alongside Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The two have consistently polled far ahead of the rest of the field.

Now that he’s in the race though, Biden is likely to face increased scrutiny.

Even prior to his announcement, Biden faced criticism over his past support for anti-busing legislation in the 1970s and his role in the Anita Hill hearings during Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation process.

His interactions with women have also been placed under the microscope after several women said Biden made them feel uncomfortable with his overly-intimate behavior.

Biden addressed the issue in a video, but some Democrats are still concerned he doesn’t understand the severity of the issue.

For others, Biden’s candidacy is a welcome addition to the race. Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) endorsed Biden on Thursday.

Casey will also appear with Biden at his first major fundraiser in Philadelphia on Thursday. From there, Biden will host his first campaign event in Pittsburgh on Monday, before traveling to Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Biden does not currently have a trip to Virginia on the books, but if his launch video is any indication, it’s safe to assume that he’ll swing through the Commonwealth soon enough.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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