(Gray News) - The former vice president has finally made up his mind about 2020, joining a crowded Democratic primary field.
Joe Biden quickly garnered endorsements from two senators, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, becoming the first candidate to gain the support of more than one senator, according to the Associated Press.
Biden announced his candidacy Thursday with a YouTube campaign video titled “America is an Idea,” calling out what he characterized as President Donald Trump’s weak response to white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017 that cost a young woman her life.
Of the president’s response, Biden said, “He said there were ‘very fine people on both sides.’”
The former vice president said we’re in a “battle for the soul of this nation.”
“If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” Biden said. “Who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
The former vice president, who has a wealth of experience gained over more than 40 years in office, joins the race at the top of the polls, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Coons said Biden is “better prepared than anyone to lead America on the world stage at a time when our commitments to our allies and our values are being questioned like never before.”
Biden will begin campaigning next week with a visit to Pittsburgh, PA, where he’ll speak and receive the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Former President Barack Obama hasn’t endorsed his former vice president, but Biden said it’s because he asked Obama not to, he said to reporters on a train bound for Delaware.
“Whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merit,” he said.
Trump responded to Biden’s announcement with a tweet welcoming him to the race by way of customary insults and a new nickname: “Sleepy Joe.”
“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!” Trump tweeted.
Symone Sanders, 29, the press secretary during Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, is reportedly joining the Biden campaign as senior adviser, sources told the Associated Press. She’s become a familiar face as contributor on CNN and has been highly sought by Democratic campaigns.
It is Biden’s third presidential campaign.
Biden has been beset in recent weeks with allegations of behavior that made women feel uncomfortable, including kissing the head of Lucy Flores, a Nevada state assemblywoman who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor, at a 2014 rally.
In a statement addressing his behavior, Biden said, “In many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” the statement read. “And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested that I did so I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
He also released a video on Twitter in which he vowed to respect personal space.
He’s also taken heat and expressed regret for the Senate hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and not giving Anita HIll “the hearing she deserved.” Biden was Senate Judiciary chairman when she came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Thomas, CNN reported.
Biden is considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2020, despite joining the race later than others.
An early Reuters/Ipsos poll from December shows Biden leading a crowded field of potential Democratic contenders with 29 percent of the support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The poll found that he, Sanders, Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, would all beat the incumbent Trump if the election had been held in December.
Recent polling shows more of the same sentiment in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, CNN reported.
Biden appears to have the support of at least one prominent Democrat, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I think of all the names that are out there, I think Joe Biden has the best case," Cuomo said, per CNN. “I think Joe Biden has the best case because he brings the most of the secret ingredient you need to win for a Democrat, which is credibility.”
Trump and Biden have already been verbally sparring for more than a year, with each of the men saying they would “beat up” the other one in early 2018. The former vice president criticized Trump while campaigning for Democrats for the 2018 midterms.
“I am sick and tired of this administration. I am sick and tired of what’s going on. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I hope you are too,” he said in a speech, Business Insider reported.
Biden served two terms as President Barack Obama’s vice president. He chose not to run for president in 2016 - his eldest son Beau died after a battle with brain cancer in May 2015.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination and ended up being defeated by Trump in a close race.
Biden served as a senator representing Delaware for 36 years, the state’s longest serving senator.
He was one of the youngest people elected to the Senate at age 29 in 1972.
Just weeks after his election to the Senate, he suffered a family tragedy.
Biden’s wife, Neilia, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in an crash, and their two young sons were critically injured. He was sworn in to the Senate at his sons' hospital bedside.
Instead of living in Washington, DC, he commuted to Capitol Hill every day, a practice for which he became known.
As a senator, for 17 years, he served on the Senate Judiciary Committee either as chairman or ranking member, depending on which party was in power. He is often associated with the Violence Against Women Act. For 12 years, he was also a chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He ran for the Democratic nomination in 2008 before joining Obama on the ticket.
He also ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president in 1987, dropping out in favor of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who lost to incumbent President Ronald Reagan.
Biden’s 1987 campaign was derailed amid a plagiarism scandal, in which he admitted he lifted a speech without attribution from British politician Neil Kinnock.
He often touts his working-class roots but has been criticized for his tendency of gaffes, including use of the "f" word caught on a hot mic, as in “This is a big f---ing deal" in 2010 at a signing ceremony for healthcare reform legislation.
Since leaving office, Biden has been a favorite subject of memes, which sometimes feature him alongside Obama. He’s also been a favorite subject of Onion satirical content that makes fun of his homespun demeanor since his days as vice president.
It’s become such a thing that Obama offered Biden a meme for his birthday in 2017.
Biden is a native of Scranton, PA. When he was young, his family moved to Claymont, DE.
He graduated from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School and served on the New Castle County Council.
He married Jill Jacobs in 1977.