Months after the first formal candidate announcements, the field of 2020 U.S. presidential candidates is still taking shape. Former Vice President Joe Biden officially jumped into the fray on Thursday, and soon after, was spotted traveling on an Amtrak train in the Northeast, as he’s been known to do for decades. A photo of the moment quickly spread across the internet, highlighting, for some, the unique nature of the presidential race that’s just getting underway. Since personal character does eventually percolate down into presidential policy, it’s worth wondering given the moment if current President Donald Trump would ever be caught on an Amtrak train.
BBC’s Paul Danahar shared his take:
‘It’s an illustration of how political campaigns in America have changed that a few hours after launching his Presidential campaign online, Joe Biden is not at a huge launch party but sitting quietly on a train to New York with just a handful of aides.’
It’s an illustration of how political campaigns in America have changed that a few hours after launching his Presidential campaign online, Joe Biden is not at a huge launch party but sitting quietly on a train to New York with just a handful of aides pic.twitter.com/yMHFWsKoA3
— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) April 25, 2019
It’s true — as Trump himself has helped prove ironically enough, there’s a significant amount of power to be found via internet presences, sometimes even to the point of excluding in-person events. Trump repeatedly and consistently demands the news cycle be focused on him by his often incendiary tweets that increased dramatically once he took office. Almost daily, he takes to Twitter to not just vent frustrations but offer nationally and even globally reverberating policy proposals. It’s like Trump is a schoolyard bully standing on the world stage and screaming “Look at me!!!!”
Biden is seeking to cast himself as the antithesis to all of that. He’s run for president before, and he came close to launching a bid in 2016 before taking time to step aside after his son died. Sparing no words on the occasion of his (online) campaign announcement, Biden shared:
‘The core values of this nation… our standing in the world… our very democracy… everything that has made America — America — is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.’
He has often employed such rhetoric in his public commentary since leaving the White House, as has former President Barack Obama. Although the two served alongside one another, Obama did not endorse Biden as of late Thursday afternoon at least, opting instead to seemingly wait to let the packed field of Democratic candidates continue some self-sorting at Biden’s request. In 2016, Obama did not endorse anyone until Hillary Clinton had secured enough support to become the party’s presidential nominee.
This time around, there’s a seemingly high chance that Biden will make it to at least the final rounds of the Democratic presidential primary. The current RealClearPolitics average of polls of the field has him in the lead and about six percent ahead of the second place contender, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), who sent out an email blast to supporters requesting donations in light of Biden’s announcement.
No other candidate is even close to Biden or Sanders in most polling. While the two of them have 29.3 and 23 percent of the support, respectively, the next three contenders — Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) have 8.3, 7.5, and 6.5 percent.
Featured Image via screenshot