Joe Biden snags union endorsement of International Association of Firefighters

April 29, 2019 GMT

PITTSBURGH Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden picked up an endorsement Monday from the International Association of Firefighters that will put union muscle behind his White House run.

In an online video announcing the endorsement, IAF General President Harold Schaitberger called Mr. Biden “one of the staunchest advocates for working families.”

“Joe’s a lot like our firefighters. He’s a problem-solver who cares deeply about America and committed to making our country better,” Mr. Schaitberger said.

The firefighters union boasts more than 300,000 members across the country.


A front-runner among the 20 Democrats seeking the nomination, Mr. Biden official joined the 2020 race last week and is using his longtime ties to organized labor as a launch pad for his campaign.

He will hold his first rally later Monday at a union hall, focusing on his vision for rebuilding the middle class.

“The reason there is a middle class is because of unions.” Mr. Biden says in a clip from a previous speech that is featured in the endorsement video.

In delivering the endorsement, Mr. Schaitberger previewed Biden campaign themes.

“He knows that a strong middle class means a strong America, and we know, as president, he will stand up for all the patriotic Americans who want nothing more than to earn a decent wage, send their kids to college, have affordable health care and a decent and secure retirement,” he said.

The Pittsburgh setting for the kick-off speech highlights Mr. Biden’s connection to a state and a blue-collar constituency that is key to Democrats’ plans to oust President Trump at the ballot box next year.

Mr. Biden was born in Scranton and always touts his working-class roots, though he spent 36 years as a senator from neighboring Delaware.

After the Pittsburgh rally, Mr. Biden sets off on a campaign swing through the early voting state of Iowa and South Carolina.

Mr. Biden entered the race Thursday with a bang. He raked in $6.3 million in the first 24 hours, the most of any 2020 Democratic candidate.

His fundraising prowess and near-universal name recognition that helped propel him to the top of the polls can be chalked up to his two terms as a sidekick to the popular President Barack Obama.

Voters and Mr. Biden’s rivals will be closely watching for him to add details about how he plans to realize his vision.