U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday mocked former Vice President Joe Biden as "sleepy" while former President Barack Obama highly praised his partner but stopped short of endorsing Biden in 2020 presidential campaign.
Biden, 76, officially announced his presidential run in an online video Thursday morning, saying he jumped into the crowded field of the Democratic Party's nomination race because everything that has made America America is "at stake."
"We are in the battle for the soul of this nation," Biden said in the video, claiming that history will look back on Trump's presidency as "an aberrant moment in time."
"Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign," Trump tweeted hours after Biden's long-expected announcement, warning Biden the race would be "nasty."
"I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be," Trump wrote in a tweet last week.
"President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made," Katie Hill, a spokeswoman for Obama, said in a statement.
"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," the statement said.
However, Biden said he told Obama not to endorse him in the race, though many Democrats saw him as a trustee of Obama's legacy.
"I asked President Obama not to endorse," Biden said on Thursday. "Whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits."
"If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation - who we are - and I cannot stand by and watch that happen," Biden said in his announcement video.
While seen by many Republicans as Trump's strongest challenger in a possible general election matchup, the former vice president faces criticism from the left side of his party for his centralist leadership.
Following his announcement, Justice Democrats, one of top progressive groups, urged Democrats to choose "new leadership with a bold vision" favored by the party's progressive base, calling Biden a relic of the Democratic Party's "old guard" who failed to stop Trump.
"We don't need someone who voted for the Iraq War, for mass incarceration, and for the Bankruptcy Reform Act while voting against gay marriage, reproductive rights, and school desegregation," said the group in a statement, advocating "progressive populist policies like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college, rejecting corporate money, and ending mass incarceration and deportation."
Biden also faced criticism recently from women who alleged his tendency to touch people made them uncomfortable. In response, he promised to be "more mindful and respectful of people's personal space" but didn't apologize.
Biden is expected to attend his first high-dollar fundraiser held at the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen on Thursday evening, and to show up at a local union hall in Pittsburgh on Monday. The Biden campaign said he will lay out his "vision for rebuilding America's middle class" at the Pittsburgh event.
With strong support from older voters and African Americans and thanks to the fact that his name is well-known, Biden currently leads about 20 Democratic hopefuls for the party's 2020 presidential nomination, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.
The former vice president is supported by 26 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, followed by Senator Bernie Sanders with 15 percent, the poll showed. About 40 percent of African Americans and 32 percent of those aged 55 and older said they support Biden.
No other Democratic candidate, including notable names such as Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, as well as former House member Beto O'Rourke and rising star Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend in the state of Indiana, garnered the support of more than 7 percent of the respondents.
Biden, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, became an attorney in 1969 and was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 as the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history. He served as the U.S. vice president from 2009 to 2017.
During his nearly four decades in the Senate, he was a longtime member and former chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. He also served as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Biden launched a bid for the 1988 Democratic nomination and ran a second time in the 2008 cycle. He reportedly seriously considered another run for the White House in 2016, but announced in October 2015 that he would not launch a campaign following the death of his eldest son Beau.
If elected, Biden would be the oldest president to enter the White House. Enditem