What to Know
- Joe Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but became a Delaware senator when he was barely 30 years old.
- President Trump won the state's electoral college votes despite years of Democrats winning.
- Hillary Clinton won Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in 2016, two cities Biden is already focusing on for his 2020 run.
Former Vice President and official 2020 candidate Joe Biden is paying special attention to his native Pennsylvania, a state that swung to Trump in 2016 after voting for Democratic presidential candidates for decades.
Biden will be in Pennsylvania three times within the opening weeks of his campaign, which he launched Thursday morning via video. He'll be in Philadelphia on Thursday evening headlining a fundraiser at the home of David L. Cohen, executive senior vice president of Comcast, parent company of NBCUniversal and this station. Biden is aiming to raise $500,000 at the event.
Next week, Biden will hold his first public event as a 2020 presidential candidate in Pittsburgh. Then it's off to Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire before holding a major rally in Philadelphia on May 18.
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While Biden represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years, he was often referred to as Pennsylvania's third senator. The 76-year-old was born in Scranton and frequently references his hardscrabble roots as a way to connect with blue-collar and union voters.
During a speech in front of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers earlier this month, he told a room filled with mostly white, male voters that "All you’re looking for is to be treated fairly, with respect, with some dignity," Biden said. "Because you matter."
But a win for Biden in Pennsylvania is not guaranteed. President Donald Trump swept the state in 2016 despite Hillary Clinton's victories in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Already, the chair of the state Republican party challenged Biden's record during his eight years in the Obama administration.
"Joe Biden was a key adviser to eight years of a Presidency that resulted in the terrible Iran nuclear deal, turned a blind eye to Russian interference in the 2016 election, attacked religious organizations, forced unrealistic government mandates onto Americans, and pushed Americans into a health care system where they could not keep doctors they liked and are forced to pay increasing premiums," Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio said in a statement.
Several local Democrats have already endorsed Biden. Sen. Bob Casey, former Gov. Ed Rendell and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter are among those expected to attend Thursday's fundraiser in Philadelphia.
"At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, our children and our workers, America needs Vice President Joe Biden to be its next President," Casey said in a statement. "As both a U.S. Senator and our Vice President, he has delivered results for the middle class, kept our country safe and strengthened our standing in the world."
Democrats in Delaware also jumped to Biden's side Thursday morning. U.S. Sen. Tom Carper released a statement praising Biden's years of service and ability reach across the political aisle.
"Throughout his time in public service, Joe has proven that you can disagree without being disagreeable, and that you can compromise on policy without compromising your principles," Carper said in a statement. "He is a man of his word and of integrity, and it is that character that has earned him the respect of voters and world leaders alike."
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt, also from Delaware, said Biden's compassion is missing from politics today.
"We need an experienced leader who embodies our best values and can bring back stability, integrity, and honor to our country. Joe is the right leader for this moment in history," she said in a statement.
Former President Barack Obama stopped short of endorsing Biden, but said the two have remained close friends since their time in the White House.
President Donald Trump, on the other hand, welcomed Biden to the race in a tweet:
"I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty — you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!"