Joe Biden cancels plan to launch 2020 campaign in Charlottesville

April 23, 2019

Joe Biden cancels plan to launch 2020 campaign in Charlottesville Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com

Joe Biden’s long-anticipated campaign launch has been delayed again. Recent reports indicated that the former vice president planned to announce his 2020 presidential candidacy in Charlottesville, Virginia on Wednesday, but that plan has been abandoned. Biden will now kick off his 2020 bid on Thursday with a video before heading out on the campaign trail.

Biden has long been considered a 2020 presidential contender, but his delayed entry to the Democratic race has been marked by confusion and mixed signals, and some have questioned whether the former vice president will or should run at all. Biden’s campaign was plunged into trouble before it even began last month after several women accused him of inappropriately touching then, prompting Biden to respond in a video statement.

Biden delays campaign launch

Despite the early trouble, Biden was reportedly set to launch his campaign this week in Charlottesville, Virginia — the site of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. Biden has criticized Trump for equivocating between white nationalists who staged the rally and the protesters who showed up to oppose them, particularly after one of those protesters, Heather Heyer, was killed at the rally.

Reports that Biden was planning to launch his campaign in Charlottesville this week may indicate that Biden was planning to evoke the memory of the rally to send a message about overcoming the “hate” that Trump’s critics say he has encouraged. However, liberal activists told the Washington Examiner that Charlottesville residents reportedly saw Biden’s plans as a disrespectful attempt to exploit the city’s history.

Perhaps realizing the tone-deafness of his original plans, Biden has dropped Charlottesville, a spokesman for Biden told the Washington Examiner.

Thursday roll-out planned

Biden is now expected to announce his candidacy with a video statement Thursday, followed by the stops in Pittsburgh and other Pennsylvanian cities next week, and then stops in early primary states. According to Fox News, the video will emphasize the “climate of the nation” and will target Trump.

The video will likely focus on the pitch Biden has gradually pieced together in numerous public statements over the months: that Trump is a threat to the United States and its values, and only Biden can heal a nation that Trump has divided. Biden has largely banked his candidacy on the premise that he alone has the name recognition and popularity to oust Trump from the White House.

“The theme for the announcement is going to be ‘the battle for the soul of America,’” a source told Fox.

The former vice president has led the polls in the Democratic primary race despite not officially declaring his candidacy. Biden has occasionally hinted at his presidential ambitions, often with pointed rebukes of Trump, emphasizing the president’s vices and the urgency of restoring the American values that Trump has supposedly destroyed.

Biden’s expected first stop in Pittsburgh, where he plans to speak to union workers, is an indication that Biden plans to make an impression in the heart of Trump country. Biden is seen as having an “old school Democrat” image that some say could appeal to working-class voters in states that Trump poached from the Democrats in 2016.

Biden’s moment marked by confusion, uncertainty

But Biden’s anticipated run has been marked by continual uncertainty and delays, and his plans are still uncertain. Besides the canceled Charlottesville stop, Biden’s plans to follow up the Pittsburgh stop with a speech at Philadelphia’s Museum of Art could change, according to the Philadelphia Post-Gazette.

Moreover, not everyone in his party is excited by Biden’s moderate views, and the 78-year-old also faced tough questions about his past interactions with women. Some Democrats were quick to excuse the allegations of inappropriate touching against Biden, but others did not. And some progressives are unenthusiastic about another white male, establishment Democrat carrying the torch of the party in a time when the party is pushing far to the left with bold proposals on climate change and health care.

Biden is banking on appeals to unity, but progressives may find this peacemaking pitch facile and tantamount to surrender to conservatives who they see as standing in the way of much needed, radical change. Critics say that Biden is campaigning on nostalgia for the Obama era that is too backward-looking for a new era of radical, grassroots politics, with critics likening a potential Biden presidency to a third Obama term.

Some say Biden’s pitch is a deflection from difficult questions about his ideological purity. “There’s a lot of talk about what lane he’s in. Is he a moderate or a progressive? I think he’s trying to be above the fray and above all that,” a source familiar with the campaign told The Hill.

Biden’s primary threats appear to be Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), another septuagenarian with “authentic” appeal in Midwestern states, who has overtaken Biden in a fresh New Hampshire poll., and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, with whom Biden tied in the poll.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.