Updated May 19
Former Vice President Joe Biden formally kicked off his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket with a rally Saturday afternoon at Eakins Oval outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Speaking a stone’s throw from the Rocky statue, Biden said he chose Philadelphia for the launch and his official campaign headquarters because “this was the birthplace of our democracy.”
A former Senator from Delaware, Biden has several connections to the region, and he emphasized his Pennsylvania roots during his speech. His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, recalled growing up watching Phillies games.
The crowd numbered only around 6,000, according to security officials. By comparison, Wawa Welcome America used to bring out upwards of 100,000 to the Ben Franklin Parkway. The day’s sunny and breezy weather couldn’t have been better, but security was tight, and events like the Italian Market Festival were competing for attention. Pundits called the small rally “a classic made-for-TV event.”
Another distraction for Philadelphians? The May 21 primary election. The city has been slowly gearing up for the intra-party showdown — which de facto settles many races because of the city’s lopsided Democrat-to-Republican registration ratio.
Players in local politics have expressed mixed opinions on Biden’s timing. Did the potential presidential nominee really need to activate the city’s civically engaged days before the polls open? Or might it actually help boost turnout?
As Biden spoke, a Trump supporter in the crowd invited boos when he tried to interrupt. Biden hushed those who came to his defense, and urged them to leave the man alone as police escorted him out because “that’s not how we do it, other campaigns do it this way. We don’t do it.”
The former VP emphasized “unity” during his speech, but was adamant about his goal to beat Trump in the upcoming election. He received a largely warm reception from attendees who could be heard yelling “We want Joe!” from the time he arrived up until the moment he was driven from the park with his family.
Here’s more photos from the Biden campaign rally at the Art Museum steps.