Biden cites Charlottesville and saving 'soul' of US in 2020 presidential bid

Biden will appear on "The View" Friday and on "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

April 25, 2019, 7:26 AM

In a video released Thursday morning, former vice president Joe Biden formally announced he's running for president in 2020 -- ending months-long speculation about his intentions.

Biden becomes the 20th Democrat to enter the 2020 race, and enters as a high-profile candidate, with decades of experience.

He will hold his first event as a candidate at a union hall in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Following his formal announcement, Biden's first television interview will take place on ABC's "The View" on Friday.

Biden opened his announcement video quoting from the Declaration of Independence.

"We haven't always lived up to these ideals. [Thomas] Jefferson himself didn't. But we've never before walked away from them," Biden says in the video.

Biden contrasts Jefferson's hometown, Charlottesville, with the deadly clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters that occurred there in August 2017. He quotes President Donald Trump in the video, referring to the president's "very fine people on both sides" quote in the wake of the death of Heather Heyer.

In Biden's first fundraising email, sent just after the announcement, he writes, "If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. I cannot stand by and watch that happen."

He and his wife Jill Biden will also sit down with Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s "Good Morning America," ahead of his Pittsburgh event. The interview will air on GMA Tuesday.

Jill Biden tweeted about the announcement, saying she was 'excited and proud' Biden was running for president.

Throughout the 2018 midterms, Biden cast the upcoming elections as a "battle for the soul of America."

Biden's campaign will focus on three major pillars--rebuilding the middle class, "the backbone of this country"; demonstrating respected leadership on the world stage; and making democracy more inclusive, by fixing campaign finance, voting rights, and gerrymandering.

Over the next few weeks, Biden will take that message on the road to early voting states, including Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, California and New Hampshire, before returning to Pennslyvania for a final kickoff event on May 18 in Philadelphia, with remarks focusing on 'Unifying America,' according to Biden's campaign website.

In a field that boasts a number of vocal progressive candidates, Biden's bipartisan approach may make it difficult for him to gain support with the liberal wing of the party.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first State Democratic dinner in Dover, Delaware, March 16, 2019.
Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

"Middle-Class Joe" isn’t backing away from his bipartisan roots.

"Vice President Biden believes to his core that you can disagree politically on a lot and still work together on issues of common cause, especially issues as essential as the fight against cancer," Biden spokesperson Bill Russo told ABC News earlier this year.

One of the first challenges to Biden's candidacy will be answering tough questions on allegations from some women who have said that the former vice president made them feel uncomfortable in past interactions by touching them without their permission.

On Wednesday, his Democratic rival, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, signaled that Biden "is going to have to directly answer to voters" on the allegations.

This will be Biden's third run for president. He previously ran in 1988 and 2008, before serving as vice president to Barack Obama.

Biden will likely campaign on his connection to the former president, though a source familiar with Obama's thinking tells ABC News that its unlikely "he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process."

But Obama did have praise for his former running mate after his announcement.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made. 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," Katie Hill, a spokesperson for Obama told ABC News in a statement.

The Republican National Committee is already taking aim at Biden's candidacy -- saying the country doesn't need "eight more years of Biden."

“Joe Biden has been running for president and losing since the ‘80s. 2020 won’t be any different," RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens told ABC News in a statement. "We don’t need eight more years of Biden. Just ask President Obama, who isn’t even endorsing his right-hand man.”

But the former vice president has received a few congressional endorsement following Biden's announcement--Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del. issued statements supporting Biden's run.

"Joe believes in and embodies the fundamental decency and sense of hope that make this country the greatest the world has ever known. He understands, like so many of us, what it means to be knocked down and get back up, and he believes in his heart that America’s best days are still ahead," Coons said in his statement.

Biden was one of the youngest people ever elected to the Senate, when he won his race in 1972 at 29 years old.

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