Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Former US Vice President Joe Biden announces 2020 White House bid

The candidacy will be the 76-year-old's third run for the presidency

The latest Democratic candidate for the 2020 US election, former vice president Joe Biden, brings decades of foreign affairs experience to his bid – but his overseas record could prove a liability.

Of the 20 Democrats who have announced their candidacy so far, Mr Biden, 76, has the longest record in foreign policy.

He entered the Senate in 1972 before candidates including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang were born.

Mr Biden's 1972 Senate campaign focused on opposition to the Vietnam War and in the years since he developed a reputation for realist foreign policy.

By the time he became vice president in 2008, he was recognised as a senior national security voice in the Democratic Party.

In a video published on Thursday to announce his candidacy – his third bid for the White House – Mr Biden called the election a "battle for the soul of this nation."

He said it offered an opportunity to repair America's standing in the world after four years of Mr Trump's unilateral leadership style.

America is “an idea more powerful than any tyrant and dictator", Mr Biden said.

Mr Biden has entered the race as a frontrunner, polling ahead of Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.

His name recognition, affiliation with former president Barack Obama and his rapport with working-class voters have boosted his popularity in the Midwest and southern states.

So has his family history. In 1972 his wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident, and in 2015 his son Beau died of brain cancer.

But Mr Biden’s bid comes with plenty of baggage on foreign and domestic fronts.

He recently faced renewed scrutiny about his longtime propensity for touching and kissing strangers at political events, with several women publicly saying he had made them feel uncomfortable.

On foreign policy, Mr Biden, a career centrist, will face questions about his support for the Iraq war and military intervention in Bosnia, and his close ties with Israel at a time when his party is swinging towards the left.

Mr Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are running on anti-interventionist platforms.

But Mr Biden’s stated desire to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, build strong ties with Europe and adopt a more hawkish policy on Russia could resonate with the Democratic base and even some Republicans as an alternative to Mr Trump.

Those close to him praise Mr Biden for his warmth and humility. He was photographed travelling by train on Thursday moments after announcing his candidacy.

But his communication style could also be a liability. He has previously been forced to apologise for making inappropriate comments.

In 2014, he apologised to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after accusing Turkey of helping the rise of ISIS.

Mr Biden's performance in coming months will probably provide an indication of the future Democratic Party's national security platform in the years since Mr Obama left office.

Updated: April 26, 2019 04:11 AM

SHARE

SHARE