The announcement Thursday from former Vice President Joe Biden that he is running for president is drawing a mixed reaction in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In a video posted on Twitter, Biden focused on the 2017 deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville. Biden noted President Donald Trump’s comments that there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent encounter, which left one woman dead.
But some people in the city, who experienced the violence, are not happy about the video.
“To have that be used as part of a political campaign platform is appalling,” said Lisa Woolfork, an English professor at the University of Virginia, who was at the rally as a counter protester.
Woolfork said she feels like the video turns her city’s problems into a political “prop.”
“It felt like being used,” she said. “My feelings were frustration and outrage.”
Charlottesville Council member Mike Signer, who was the city’s mayor during the rally, had a different take, saying the Biden video successfully drew attention to serious problems in Charlottesville and the nation.
“I thought that it accomplished a lot of things all at once,” Signer said. “I am very proud and glad that this campaign sought to focus on the issues that the events in Charlottesville presented.”
The 76-year-old Biden is betting that his working-class appeal and ties to Barack Obama’s presidency will help him overcome questions about his place in today’s increasingly liberal Democratic Party.
Biden’s announcement marks the unofficial end of the chaotic early phase of the 2020 presidential season.
The field now features at least 20 Democrats jockeying for the chance to take on Trump next year.
The Republican Party wasted no time seeking to undercut Biden’s record, releasing a video on Wednesday questioning economic growth under Obama and Biden while resurrecting conservative arguments against Obama’s health care law and a failed investment in green energy company Solyndra.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.