ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden officially kicked off his White House campaign on Monday by hosting a union event in Pittsburgh just hours after securing his first labor endorsement.
Biden told Teamsters members who attended his first event as a 2020 contender that restoring a vibrant middle class would be the theme of his campaign.
"I make no apologies.
I am a union man.
Period," Biden told the packed union hall.
"The country wasn't built by Wall Street bankers, CEOs and hedge fund managers, it was built by you." Among those who introduced Biden was Harold Schaitberger, the president of the International Association of Firefighters, a 300,000-member union that endorsed him ahead of the Pittsburgh event.
In a Twitter fusillade, Trump said that while leaders of the firefighters and other unions would endorse Democrats in the 2020 race, "the members love Trump." Biden soon fired back on Twitter.
"I'm sick of this president badmouthing unions," he said.
Biden, who joined the 2020 Democratic race last week, has long styled himself as a champion of blue-collar workers.
He is counting on organized labor to comprise a significant part of his support.
In endorsing Biden, IAFF's Schaitberger called him "one of the staunchest advocates for working families." In Pittsburgh, Biden, 76, laid out his vision for bolstering the nation's middle class.
He will next head to the early voting state of Iowa.
The Democratic field now features 20 contenders, many of whom are making bids for backing by labor.
Six other Democratic candidates on Saturday addressed union members at an event in Las Vegas, pledging support for policies such as a $15 federal minimum wage.