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Tuesday November 19th, 2019 4:31PM

The Latest: Joe Biden to begin campaigning in Pennsylvania

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on former Vice President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential bid (all times local):

9:45 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will hit the road campaigning first thing next week.

Biden is scheduled to begin in Pittsburgh, the working class heart of his childhood home state of Pennsylvania. He'll receive the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters and speak about rebuilding the middle class.

Then it's off to Iowa, home of the leadoff nominating caucuses. That will be followed by a trip to South Carolina, where Biden is seen as having to do well among the state's sizable blocs of African American voters and military veterans.

Biden is scheduled to visit other early-voting states Nevada and New Hampshire in early May, before holding a national event in Philadelphia on May 18.

Biden joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest on Thursday, declaring the "soul of this nation" at stake if President Donald Trump wins re-election.

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9:25 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is running into immediate headwinds from some progressive Democrats from the party's left wing as he launches his 2020 presidential bid.

A group aligned with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Justice Democrats says in a lengthy statement that Biden is a centrist Democrat who could "divide the party." It says Biden could squelch progressive enthusiasm for policies like single-payer health care and a Green New Deal.

The group said Thursday the "old guard" already failed to defeat President Donald Trump in 2016 and cannot be counted on to excite the base in 2020. But the statement still notes that Justice Democrats will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination next year.

Biden joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest on Thursday morning, declaring the "soul of this nation" at stake if Trump wins re-election.

___

8:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is welcoming former Vice President Joe Biden to the 2020 race with a taste of his acerbic Twitter commentary.

Trump tweets Thursday: "Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe," one of his nicknames for Biden, a fellow septuagenarian. He adds: "I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign."

Trump predicts that the race to face him in the general election will be "nasty" but says if Biden wins the nomination, "I will see you at the Starting Gate!"

Biden formally announced his candidacy on Thursday, entering the crowded 2020 Democratic field as a front-runner.

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7 a.m.

Senate Democrats from Joe Biden's twin home states of Delaware and Pennsylvania are endorsing him for president.

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey quickly issued written statements supporting the former vice president after Biden posted a video declaring his 2020 candidacy.

Coons, who holds Biden's old Senate seat, says in the statement, "Joe Biden doesn't just talk about making our county more just, he delivers results."

Casey says, "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."

Biden was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but has lived most of his life in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden represented Delaware in the Senate from 1973 to 2009.

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6:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama is weighing in on Joe Biden's entry into the 2020 presidential race, saying through a spokeswoman that selecting Biden as his running mate in 2008 was "one of the best decisions he ever made."

Obama did not endorse Biden, nor is he expected to endorse any candidate early in the Democratic primary. But the fact that he released a statement — something he hasn't done after any other candidate announcements — underscores his close personal bond with Biden.

Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill says Obama relied on Biden's "knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency."

The former president has met with multiple Democratic presidential contenders and is said to welcome the large 2020 field and believe it will make the eventual Democratic nominee a stronger White House contender.

___

6 a.m.

Joe Biden has formally entered the 2020 race for president.

The vice president under President Barack Obama made the announcement in a video released Thursday morning.

The move marks what will likely be the 76-year-old's final opportunity to seek a job he has eyed for more than a generation. He struggled in two previous campaigns.

One of the most recognizable names in U.S. politics, Biden leads most early Democratic primary polls. But as an older white man who spent a half-century in Washington, it's unclear if he will be embraced by today's increasingly liberal Democratic Party.

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