WILMINGTON – Joe Biden is officially in the race for president.
His long-awaited answer to the biggest political question in the country the past few months ended on Thursday when he joined 20 ideologically diverse Democrats vying to become the party’s 2020 presidential nominee.
Biden made his announcement on Facebook and Twitter.
The announcement from the 76-year-old former vice president comes three years after he declined to seek the country’s highest political office — a time in which he and his family were grieving the death of his oldest son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
Thanks to the name recognition that comes with holding national office, Biden has been among the front-runners in Democratic polling for months, even as he waited along the sidelines.
Yet, in recent weeks, controversy struck after four women claimed Biden had hugged, kissed or rubbed noses with them without permission.
In the wake of the allegations, Biden’s lead in some recent primary state polls weakened as support for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has grown.
The current Democratic field of candidates includes a former cabinet secretary to President Barack Obama, sitting senators, current and former U.S. representatives, and a former governor.
Several candidates have pulled their party to the left, calling for Medicare for all and tighter regulations on fossil fuels. It remains unclear whether a similar a progressive tilt will come from the Biden camp in the months before the first state primaries early next year.
Biden embraced the “middle class Joe” moniker while serving as vice president, yet prior to that he represented the moderate, pro-business state of Delaware for 36 years in the U.S. Senate.
There, he championed the Violence Against Women Act and numerous bills designed to combat drug use, including legislation that imposed stiffer prison sentences for the possession of crack than those for powder cocaine.
Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld. president of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute, says Biden today has a built in base in the political center as many socially liberal and economically conservative business leaders are excited about his candidacy.
Businesses are craving an experienced politician who can avert the economic uncertainty that has surrounded the Trump Administration, he said.
They will support Biden, a lifelong Democrat, even though he may not favor all of their preferred, “parochial” tax cuts, said Sonnenfeld. who also is a professor of management at Yale University.
“The runaway biggest fear they (businesses) have is the political instability in Washington,” he said. “Joe Biden, they see as a breath of fresh air.”
With his candidacy officially launched, many political commentators now will keep watch on his political donations, particularly during the first week.
Chanos, an investment manager and major Democratic donor, told CNBC in February that he would throw his support and influence behind a Biden presidential run.
But while Biden may reap support from well-heeled moderates if he embraces the party’s center, that could also make him a target of political barbs from progressives.
Ultimately, Biden’s candidacy could become a measure of whether Democratic voters have shifted as far to the left as some of his fellow presidential candidates.