WASHINGTON – Joe Biden is a front runner among Democratic primary candidates, but holding on to his lead may prove to be the greatest fight of his life.
The former vice president seemed right at home as a visited a pizza joint in Delaware in his first campaign stop Thursday, greeted by a throng of reporters. But liberal voters will have to wait to find out where he stands on a slew of issues like "Medicare for All," the "Green New Deal" and socialism in America.
"I gotta go," Biden said, delaying tough questions.
"Justice Democrats," a group aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), labeled Biden part of the "old guard" warning his centrist ideas could "divide the party" and suppress liberal enthusiasm.
On day one of his campaigns, his message sounded a lot like President Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again."
"America is coming back like we used to be: ethical, straight, telling the truth, moving in a way, supporting our allies - all those good things," he told a reporter outside the pizza shop.
On Twitter, President Trump dubbed Biden "Sleepy Joe" and warned him in the primary, he'll be "dealing with people who truly have some very sick and demented ideas."
Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2019
Later on Fox News, the president said, "I've known Joe over the years. He's not the brightest light bulb in the group, I don't think, but he has a name that they know."
Name recognition, he has – money, he does not. That's a problem considering Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is sitting on a war chest of more than $26 million as he works to rally Democrats to support his socialist agenda.
"Our job is not just to win the White House, it is to transform the economy and government of this country," he said during a rally this week.
For Biden to beat Bernie and the other 18 candidates he'll have to answer for 45 years of votes, public statements and gaffes.
For example, in the 1970's he opposed school busing and racial quotas. In the 90's he was part of the tough-on-crime crowd, and as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he presided over the Anita Hill hearings. Those were controversial then and even more so today in the era of the MeToo movement.
Biden reached out to Hill in advance of his announcement, but Hill told the New York Times she was deeply unsatisfied with what he had to say.
Biden hits the campaign trail in earnest Monday with a stop in Pittsburgh.
"I think Joe Biden is probably the best Democratic candidate that they have right now. I'm a Republican but I think that if somebody is going to vote Democrat it's probably going to be Joe Biden," one voter tells a local TV affiliate.
Another voter says, "I think his time is over for running for president. I think we need someone younger, someone with better ideas."
In Pennsylvania, Biden will play up his reputation as a scrappy politician who tends to be popular among working-class voters, workers who are enjoying record low unemployment under President Trump.
As Biden left the Delaware pizza shop he said, "See you guys, keep the faith."