By Michael Hernandez</p> <p>WASHINGTON (AA) – Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden officially entered the 2020 White House race Thursday, ending more than a year of speculation. </p> <p>Biden is joining a crowded field of Democrats seeking the party's nomination to take on President Donald Trump in the next election cycle. </p> <p>"We are in a battle for the soul of this nation," Biden said in a pre-recorded video announcing his candidacy. "I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time."</p> <p>"But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation," he added. </p> <p>Despite becoming the latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring, Biden, 76, is widely considered the front-runner with most opinion polls showing him to be the most favored among his peers following long-running speculation he would enter the fray.</p> <p>He is expected to hold his first public campaign event Monday in Pennsylvania. He will appear Friday on ABC's "The View" morning program in what the network is billing as his first post-announcement interview.</p> <p>Trump quickly responded to Biden's announcement, welcoming "sleepy Joe" to the race in a Twitter post. </p> <p>"I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign," Trump wrote. "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!"</p> <p>Democrats are expected to have their first primary debate in June. That will kickstart a flurry of campaign activity ahead of the Democratic convention in summer 2020 where a nominee will officially be selected.