- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

After his planned announcement of a White House run in an online video Thursday, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden is scheduled to underscore his front-runner status in the Democratic race with a campaign event in the general election battleground of Pittsburgh.

Sources close to Mr. Biden said the details have remained in flux until the last moment — he had been expected to make the announcement Wednesday.

Several people familiar with the plan said that nothing was amiss with the launch, as Mr. Biden would enter as the clear favorite regardless of the timing.

At the Pittsburgh event Monday, the 77-year-old Mr. Biden, a Pennsylvania native, will appear at a union hall. His run is expected to benefit from solid union support, including from the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Top officials from the firefighter union plan to be at the union hall event Monday, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Mr. Biden enjoys a “regular guy” image borne of a working-class upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His ability to appeal to blue-collar workers would make him a powerful challenger to President Trump, whose 2016 victory hinged on support from blue-collar voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that had gone Democratic in recent elections but which Mr. Trump flipped.

Mr. Trump shrugged off the potential threat from Mr. Biden, recently dismissing him as “another low I.Q. individual.”

After Pittsburgh, Mr. Biden will head to a series of events in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

He enters the crowded Democratic field as the elder statesman, after two terms as President Obama’s vice president in the White House and 36 years as a senator from Delaware.

He will join a diverse group of 20 candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, including six women, five people of color and one gay man.

“Come on in, the water is warm, Joe,” California Sen. Kamala D. Harris, another 2020 contender, joked to The Associated Press as she campaigned Tuesday in New Hampshire. “I adore Joe Biden and I think he has to make whatever decision is best for him.”

Mr. Biden has unsuccessfully ran for president twice.

In 1988, he dropped out before the Iowa caucuses when his run was rocked by a plagiarism scandal, which started when he was discovered to have cribbed a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock, and then spread to accusations of plagiarism when in law school and exaggerating his academic record.

He tried again in 2008, but finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses with less than 1% support and then dropped out of the race. The Democratic nominee that year, Barack Obama, picked him as his running mate, and the pair won that November and in 2012.

This time, he’s the man to beat in the early running.

This time around, Mr. Biden will rank as the second oldest Democrat in the contest, behind far-left icon Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who is 77. Mr. Trump is 72.

As he prepared to launch a 2020 bid, Mr. Biden was blindsided by several women coming forward to complain that his over-familiar touching of them at public events made them uncomfortable.

The women did not accuse him of sexual misconduct but said he was too handsy or invaded their personal space. Nevertheless, the accusations raised doubts that his old-school ways were out of step with the current political climate.

“I’m sorry I didn’t understand more. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything I’ve ever done,” he told reporters in Washington earlier this month. “I’ve never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. You know, it’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for God’s sake.”

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