After batting away a softball opening question from host Joy Behar about why he took so long to enter the race, the ex-VP delivered what is likely to be his campaign’s major message.
Asked about the comment in his announcement that a battle is underway for “the soul of this nation,” Biden replied: “What I mean by that is we are not -- this is not who we are the way we're treating people. It's not who we are as a nation when we're talking about things like the reason for your problem is the other.
“It really is what I said and I really mean it and I wrote an article at the time in "The Atlantic" magazine when Charlottesville happened. This is not who we are. It's about decency, honor, including everyone. The idea to compare these racists and not condemn them. Neo-Nazis -- I don't ever remember that happening in an administration in well over 100 years.
“I found myself thinking -- by the way I travel around the world a lot as vice president and since then I have as well. The rest of the world -- I mean, they look at us like my god -- what happened to America?”
Behar then asked Biden how he plans to win over “blue-collar voters, a group that Trump won.”
“By making the case that we have to restore dignity to work. Think about this. The way we treat ordinary hard-working Americans who are middle class and working class people fighting to get in the middle class is we treat them like they're a means to an end as opposed to an ends to themselves,” Biden said.
“Go out. When's the last time we went out and thanked the guy who kept the sewer from overflowing into your basement. What about the woman up on a bucket reconnecting a connection?
“Think about what we don't do guys. It's all been about dividing. There's a real opportunity, incredible opportunity if we just treat each other with more decency.
“My dad had an expression. He said, ‘Joey, a job is about more than a paycheck. It's about your dignity, it's about your place in the community, it's about your place in society and your self-worth. It's about being able to look your kid in the eye and say it's going to be okay and mean it.’
“Think about how many people can't do that today. This president has done nothing to help that group.”
Biden's appearance came after President Trump took a swipe at him in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday night.
"I think we are calling him 'Sleepy Joe' 'cause I've known him for a while. Is he a pretty sleepy guy? He won't be able to deal with [Chinese] President Xi, I will tell you. That's a different level of energy and, frankly, intelligence. So I sort refer to him as 'Sleepy Joe.' A lot of people wanted me to change the word 'sleepy' to something else that rhymes with it," Trump told host Sean Hannity. "I thought it was too nasty.
"He's not going to be able to do the job."
Biden officially announced his candidacy in a video Thursday morning, going directly after Trump.
"If we give Donald Trump 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," Biden said in the video.