Joe Biden kicks off 2020 campaign with Pittsburgh rally

Former Vice President Joe Biden launched his third presidential campaign, formally kicking off his 2020 Democratic presidential campaign with a rally in Pittsburgh Monday. The 76-year old returned to the campaign trail surrounded by members of an influential local labor union and buoyed by an endorsement from the International Association of Fire Fighters, the group that cheered “Run, Joe, run!” last month as Biden hinted he would be joining the fray.

The local union group, Teamsters Local 429, hosted the rally but is not yet endorsing him due to the large field of candidates.

It’s labor and union voters like the ones who packed a tiny auditorium Monday who Biden is eager to win over. Their support could make a Pennsylvania win easier for him, given that they comprise around 12 percent of employees in Pittsburgh and about 665,000 workers across Pennsylvania, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In his third bid for the presidency, Biden hopes to steal away support from President Donald Trump in the 2020 general election, who won every county in Western Pennsylvania besides Allegheny County, the home of Pittsburgh. Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, won more than 56 percent of the “Steel City” vote.

“Based up on his values and his record he can demonstrate to voters in [western Pennsylvania] that he’s not only going to fight for the middle class but that he’s got a track record of delivering results for the middle class,” Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey told CBS News in a phone interview before Monday’s event.

Many Democrats here say they are excited to be the first desire of Biden’s campaign but added it’s too early to endorse a candidate.

“He presents himself well and he is straight shooter and wants to do right for the working family,” Rocco Difilippo, a leader of the Teamsters Local 429 union shop and former postal service driver, said, “So I do like Joe but now it is too early to endorse anybody.”

He stands behind us as a steelworker, and he’s for the working class,” Rose Faust told CBS News, “He stands with those of us who are in exactly in the middle…Joe is sincere. He says what he means and he will come through.”

Biden launched his campaign last Thursday with a video that aimed squarely at Mr. Trump and his response to the 2017 white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. In the days since, the president has revived his “Sleepy Joe” monicker for the former veep and has questioned whether the 76-year old Biden is physically and mentally capable of taking on the 72-year old president.

In the days since his launch, Biden has raised roughly $7 million, a sum that helped quickly quell criticism and concern that he would be unable to reap financial support in a field packed with other contenders far more proven to quickly be able to amass millions of dollars.

While Monday’s rally is on familiar territory, Biden ventures next into Iowa, where he placed fifth in a six-way Iowa caucus in 2008 and sputtered during his short-lived 1988 campaign. He heads later in the week to South Carolina and Nevada, before making fundraising stops in California and venturing on to New Hampshire.

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