Donald Trump has ridiculed Joe Biden and offered a warning to his potential presidential opponent after the former seasoned Democratic politician announced he will contest the 2020 US election.
Mr Biden announced his presidential bid in a three-and-a-half minute video on Thursday night in which he declared that Americans would vote “in the battle for the soul of this nation”.
Barack Obama’s former vice president warned that if President Trump were re-elected and spent eight years in the White House, “he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen”.
Mr Trump chose not to respond to Mr Biden’s remarks in a Twitter post several hours later, instead mocking his potential opponent as “Sleepy Joe” and warning him of a “nasty” fight for the Democratic nomination.
“I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign,” he wrote.
“It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & 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
Mr Biden’s run for the Democratic nomination 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, in 1988 and 2008.
One of the most recognisable names in US politics, Mr 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.
The core values of this nation… our standing in the world… our very democracy…everything that has made America — America –is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. #Joe2020 https://t.co/jzaQbyTEz3
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 25, 2019
Mr Biden faces myriad questions about his past, including recent claims he touched women in an overly familiar manner without their consent. He has pledged to be “much more mindful” of respecting personal space.
A source familiar with Mr Biden’s plans said he is expected to make his first public appearance as a candidate on Monday at a Pittsburgh event featuring union members.
Mr Biden, had been wrestling for months over whether to run. His candidacy will face numerous questions, including whether he is too old and too centrist for a Democratic Party yearning for fresh faces and increasingly propelled by its more vocal liberal wing.
He nevertheless starts as the leader of the pack in opinion polls of a Democratic field that now will total 20 contenders seeking the chance to challenge Mr Trump, the likely Republican nominee, in November 2020.
Critics say Mr Biden’s standing in polls is largely a function of name recognition for the former US senator from Delaware, whose more than four decades in public service includes eight years as President Obama’s No.2.
Mr Biden’s candidacy will offer early hints about whether Democrats are more interested in finding a centrist who can win over the white working-class voters who went for Mr Trump in 2016, or someone who can fire up the party’s diverse progressive wing, such as Senators Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Mr Biden has been one of the party’s more aggressive Trump critics.
Last year, he said he would “beat the hell” out of Mr Trump if the two were in high school because of the way the president has talked about women. That prompted Mr Trump to call him “Crazy Joe Biden” and claim on Twitter that Mr Biden would “go down fast and hard, crying all the way” if they fought.
Known for his verbal gaffes on the campaign trail, Mr Biden failed to gain traction with voters during his previous runs in 1988 and 2008.