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Joe Biden kicks off 2020 campaign with first rally in Pittsburgh

Joe Biden holds first 2020 campaign rally

Former Vice President Joe Biden formally launched his presidential campaign with a rally in Pittsburgh on Monday, kicking off his third bid for the presidency. He returned to the campaign trail surrounded by members of an influential local labor union and buoyed by an earlier endorsement from the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Biden said he chose to launch his campaign in Pittsburgh because he said the city is one of those that "represent the cities and towns that make up hard-working, middle class Americans who are the backbone of this nation."

Besides, he added, "If I'm going to be able to beat Donald Trump in 2020, it's going to happen here."

The local union group, Teamsters Local 429, hosted the rally but is not yet endorsing him due to the large field of candidates.

US-politics-Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during his first campaign event as a candidate for president at Teamsters Local 249 in Pittsburgh, Pa., on April 29, 2019. Getty

It's labor and union voters like the ones who packed a tiny auditorium Monday who Biden is eager to win over. Their support could make a Pennsylvania win easier for him, given that they comprise around 12 percent of employees in Pittsburgh and about 665,000 workers across Pennsylvania, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2016, President Trump won every county in Western Pennsylvania besides Allegheny County, the home of Pittsburgh. Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, won more than 56 percent of the "Steel City" vote.

"Based up on his values and his record he can demonstrate to voters in [western Pennsylvania] that he's not only going to fight for the middle class but that he's got a track record of delivering results for the middle class," Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania told CBS News in a phone interview before Monday's event.

Many Democrats here say they are excited to be the first desire of Biden's campaign but added it's too early to endorse a candidate.

"He presents himself well and he is straight shooter and wants to do right for the working family," Rocco Difilippo, a leader of the Teamsters Local 429 union shop and former postal service driver, said, "So I do like Joe but now it is too early to endorse anybody."

"He stands behind us as a steelworker, and he's for the working class," Rose Faust told CBS News."He stands with those of us who are in exactly in the middle ... Joe is sincere. He says what he means and he will come through."

Joe Biden kicks off campaign with first rally in Pittsburgh

Biden launched his campaign last Thursday with a video that aimed squarely at Mr. Trump and his response to the 2017 white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. In the days since, the president has revived his "Sleepy Joe" moniker for the former veep and has questioned whether the 76-year old Biden is physically and mentally capable of taking on the 72-year old president.

In the days since his launch, Biden has raised roughly $7 million, a sum that helped quickly quell criticism and concern that he would be unable to reap financial support in a field packed with other contenders far more proven to quickly be able to amass millions of dollars.

While Monday's rally was on familiar territory, Biden ventures next into Iowa, where he placed fifth in a six-way Iowa caucus in 2008 and sputtered during his short-lived 1988 campaign. He heads later in the week to South Carolina and Nevada, before making fundraising stops in California and venturing on to New Hampshire.

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