Regular readers know I’m a big fan of Vice President Joe Biden. I’ve been able to spend a little time with him over the years, and I’ve always appreciated his candor, intellect and feel for politics. I was glad when then-Sen. Barack Obama selected Biden to be his running mate.
But America and I seem to part ways on the idea of Biden in the White House sitting behind the Resolute desk full time. Last week, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found an overwhelming majority of Democrats favored former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the job. (She got 73 percent, to Biden’s No. 2 showing way down at No. 12.)
I suppose that makes sense; Clinton won more of the popular vote, but fewer delegates, than Obama in 2008, a hard-fought contest that went on to the very bitter end. Many Democrats reason that it’s her turn to run, and to win. And she’s competitive against a raft of potential GOP candidates on the 2016 ballot.
But Biden? Well don’t count him out just yet.
The veep said in interview with CNN that “…there’s no obvious reason, for me, why I think I should not run.”
I can think of a couple, not least of which is Clinton’s political machine, which appears to be ramping up for a 2016 run. There’s also his abortive 1988 campaign, which collapsed under the weight of allegations he’d plagiarized from a British Labour Party politician before he even got to compete in a single caucus or primary. That was forgiven 20 years later, in 2008. But while Biden performed well in debates, he was doomed by the Iowa caucus results, where he came in fifth. He dropped out after that.
Then there’s age: Biden will be 74 by Inauguration Day 2016, although the New York Times reports he’s in good health. If he did run and win, he’d best the record set by Ronald Reagan as the oldest president to take office (Reagan was nearly 70 years old when he took the oath).
Now surely, Biden has had a lot of time to think about his past runs, and strategize about how to avoid similar pitfalls in the future. But he’s surely also confronted the idea that a career dream of winning the presidency just may not be in the cards for him, especially given his past results and Clinton’s impending candidacy.
More from his interview:
As for 2016, Biden said he will base his decision to run on “whether I am the best-qualified person to focus on the two things I’ve spent my whole life on: giving ordinary people a fighting chance to make it, and a sound foreign policy that’s based on rational interests of the United States, where we’re not only known for the power of our military but the power of our example.”
“Doesn’t mean I’m the only guy that can do it, but if no one else I think can, and I think I can, then I’d run,” he added. “If I don’t, I won’t.”
There’s no doubt that Biden appeals to a blue-collar, working-class demographic (he helped Obama win some counties that might otherwise have gone the other way in 2008 and 2012). And there’s no doubt that his foreign policy experience is the match of anyone’s, even a former secretary of state. (If Biden hadn’t been tapped by Obama for vice president, there were reports swirling that he was under consideration to be named to head the State Department.) There are, of course, those who disagree: Republican former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in his new memoir that Biden has been wrong on every major foreign policy issue in the last 40 years. (Gates acknowledged, however, that he thought Biden was a man of integrity.)
For some people, Biden will probably always be the best-qualified person to run. The question is, are there enough of those people? We’ll know by next summer, when Biden says he’ll make his final decision about running for president one more time.