Former Vice President Joe Biden jumped into the 2020 presidential race Thursday morning, a long-anticipated addition to an already crowded field.
The 76 year-old announced his candidacy in a video early Thursday.
"We are in a battle for the soul of this nation," he said. Biden points to the President Donald Trump's comments following the August 2017 white supremacist riot and counter-riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. Biden accuses Trump of drawing a "moral equivalence" between the two sides marching in the city the day a white supremacist killed Heather Heyer.
"I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I'd seen in my lifetime," Biden said. "If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation."
Biden previously ran for president in 1988 and 2008, losing to Michael Dukakis and President Barack Obama, respectively.
In 1988, Biden was seen as a strong young and moderate candidate, buoyed by his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee. His campaign faltered after opponents circulated accusations of plagiarism, both on the stump and earlier in his career.
In 2008, Biden ran as a foreign policy candidate, criticizing the war in Iraq. He faced early scrutiny for comments about Indian Americans and African Americans. He praised then-Senator Obama as "the first mainstream African-American[,] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."
Biden declined to run in 2016 after losing his son to cancer the year before.
In his 2020 announcement, Biden set a tone sharply critical of the president and sweeping in its praise of the country.
"Folks, America is an idea," he said. "An idea that's stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any dictator or tyrant. It gives hope to the most desperate people on earth. It guarantees that everyone is treated with dignity, and gives hate no safe harbor."
Biden promised to be the candidate to restore civility and moral character in the White House. "We have to remember who we are. This is America," he concluded.
Biden was the author of President Bill Clinton's 90's crime bill, which took a strict approach to law and order. The bill has been criticized by progressives for some of its consequences. In recent weeks, Biden claimed he is "not at all" regretful of the bill. He also claimed he got "stuck" writing the bill due to his position in the Senate.
The Washington Free Beacon unearthed a 1973 story in which Biden described gay members of the military and federal government as "security risks."
"My gut reaction is that they (homosexuals) are security risks," Biden told a group of gay rights activists, "but I must admit I haven't given this much thought … I'll be darned."
Biden has also faced scrutiny for his behavior towards women. Several women recently came forward to accuse Biden of improperly intimate physical contact. Biden has expressed regret for the episodes, but not apologized.
"I am sorry I didn't understand more," Biden told reporters earlier this month. "I am not sorry for any of my intentions. I am not sorry for anything that I have ever done," he said. "I've never been disrespectful, intentionally, to a man or a woman."
The two-term vice president and six-term senator from Delaware joins a literal score of candidates from the Democratic party. As of now, Biden leads in most of the polls closely followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).