Has one meeting between two pols this far out from an election ever produced more presidential speculation than Biden’s, er, powwow with Elizabeth Warren this weekend?
But you know what? It really does make sense. John Fund:
Biden has another card to play in soliciting Warren’s support. He would be 74 years old if he were elected president in 2016, an issue he may have a way of addressing. “One thing that I keep hearing about Biden is that if he were to declare and say, because age is such a problem for him if he does, ‘I want to be a one-term president. I want to serve for four years, unite Washington. I’ve dealt with the Republicans in Congress all my public life,’” liberal journalist Carl Bernstein told CNN this month.
A one-term pledge by Biden would also interest Elizabeth Warren. She is 66 years old, and if a Democrat wins in 2016, she will be 74 herself by the time someone else has served two terms in office — and facing her own age issues. But if Biden won, after pledging to serve only one term, Warren would be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2020. If Biden made her his vice-presidential choice, as Yale’s Professor Kahn and others have suggested, she might be a virtual lock for the Democratic nomination.
Biden has several match-up problems with Hillary — he lacks a “trailblazer” narrative to match her First! Woman! President! shtick, he’s not so popular with the left that he can expect Berniemania-style support, and he’s more susceptible to Obama fatigue among the electorate than Clinton is. (After all, she can always run on Bill’s legacy as needed instead of O’s.) Warren solves all of those problems for him. She represents where liberals want to see the party go; a Biden/Warren ticket would be sold as a de facto bridge from the “old” Democratic Party of Bill and Hillary Clinton to the new one of Elizabeth Warren, with the Obama/Biden years as the transition. Warren, meanwhile, had match-up problems of her own with Hillary as a prospective candidate — Clinton has vastly more experience in government and Clinton might well have been able to marginalize Warren as less a mainstream Democrat than a hero of the lefty fringe. (Then again, how well has that worked out in stopping Bernie Sanders?) Four years as Biden’s apprentice in the White House solves both of those problems and would also earn Warren lots of favors from establishment Dems ahead of her inevitable 2020 run. In short, Warren lends Biden the radical chic he needs to get Democratic voters excited while Biden lends her the establishment credibility she’ll need to succeed him. It’s a no-brainer. And one thing they both have (albeit in different ways), which Hillary emphatically does not, is the ability to woo working-class voters. Remember that Quinnipiac poll I blogged last week showing how impressive Marco Rubio’s numbers were when people were asked if they thought he cares about the problems of people like them? He wasn’t the only pol who tested well in that survey. Biden’s figures:
The last few weeks have seen endless think pieces from conservative writers arguing that the key to stopping Trumpmania is for some more legit Republican candidate to co-opt his populism. That’s exactly what a Biden/Warren ticket would do to Sanders. And that’s extremely dangerous to Hillary, writes Rick Wilson:
If I were Biden’s team, I’d cut a deal right now with Elizabeth Warren promising her two things; the Vice Presidency and full control over Biden’s economic agenda…
[I]t gives the Democratic Party its socialist dream date without having to choose a 70-year-old socialist with a shock of untamed white hair, the sartorial style of a New England community college professor circa 1979, and a grating Brooklyn bellow. Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Party’s id coming out to play, and he reflects the market space that Warren left when she declined to enter the race earlier. There are the Democrats for whom Barack Obama simply hasn’t been ambitious enough in nationalizing the economy, expanding the regulatory state, and generally nannying into every aspect of our private and business lives.
Finally, it completely resets the overall campaign narrative for the Democratic Party. Right now, this would be – as the Clinton team hoped from the beginning – a stunt-casting personality fight between Hillary-as-first-woman-President and her Republican rival. Clinton would have produced the usual panoply of policy word-vomit from her focus groups, but largely run on the First Woman President narrative, not on what she’d actually do. The right words and phrases would be there, but the core progressive base of the Democratic Party and its angry labor constituency would have never believed Hillary’s heart was in it. With Warren, they would.
The lone complication for Warren in all this is that as Democratic presidential victories pile up, the country’s “Democrat fatigue” presumably (hopefully?) grows. If she helps Biden win the White House, how likely is it that voters will be in the mood down the road to turn a 12-year stranglehold on the presidency into one stretching 16 or even 20 years? From the standpoint of pure political self-interest, she’s arguably better off if Biden loses, leaving America supposedly hungry again for Democratic leadership at the start of the next decade. Then again, running against a GOP incumbent in 2020 would be no picnic either. And joining Biden’s ticket and losing next year would still help Warren 2020 a bunch by introducing her to the wider electorate now. Either they win and VP Warren has to figure out how to continue a long Democratic winning streak four years from now, which is a nice problem to have, or they lose and Warren’s easily the frontrunner for the next nomination. Who knows? Maybe we’ll end up down the road with that Warren vs. Cruz election that everyone’s been hoping for.
Here’s Josh Earnest praising Biden at today’s White House briefing. Is this a backhanded shot at Hillary or just standard political palaver?