Former Vice President Joe Biden believes he could have beaten Donald Trump during last year’s election. He told an audience at Colgate on Friday he definitely regretted not challenging Trump, but just couldn’t do it. Via The Washington Post:
“I had a lot of data,” Biden said. “I was fairly confident that if I was the Democratic Party nominee, I had a better-than-even chance of being president.”
Biden looked at his hand, flexing it back and forth.
I lost part of my soul, my, uh.” He cleared his throat. “Excuse me.”
He then recounted how the sudden illness and death of his son Beau Biden in the run-up to the Democratic primaries weighed on his decision to contest in the 2016 race.
“The press began to think I was playing a game, but I couldn’t tell them about my boy,” Biden said. “He wanted me to run. … My son Hunter, my daughter Ashley, my wife, all thought I should.”
“I didn’t,” he said. “At the end of the day, I just couldn’t do it.”
I want to make it clear: I can’t imagine how hard this decision could have been for Biden, and how much the death of his son really hurt. No parent should have to bury their kid, even if they’re grown kids. There’s something… wrong about it, and I do believe Biden is telling the truth when he says he just couldn’t do it.
But Biden makes an interesting comment regarding his regret about not running. Via WaPost:
“Do I regret not being president?” he said. “Yes. Do I regret not running for president, in light of everything that was going on in my life at the time? No.”
This probably means Biden is mostly comfortable with his decision, but is still thinking “what if?” He definitely would have been a better candidate than Hillary Clinton because he is a pretty likable guy. Yes, he’s a bit of a creep, has made statements which would have been called racist were he a Republican, and has said some pretty dumb things. But there’s a weird charm to “Crazy Uncle Joe,” which is why he probably would have beaten Clinton and Trump.
Please note: this is only talking about Biden’s ability to communicate with people (even if awkwardly), and not an endorsement of him ever actually being president. This falls in line a bit with the piece Jazz wrote earlier today. Reason’s Ed Krayewski has a pretty good write up from October 2015 on how Biden’s policies are pretty awful, including the fact he helped write the 1994 Crime Bill.
He boasted about it putting more cops on the street as recently as this year. Mother Jones suggested his past as a “tough-on-crime hardliner” might be a problem if he decided to run. Yet as recently as last month Biden, still a non-candidate, hit 20 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of Democratic presidential polling.
The other Democratic candidates aren’t better on this issue that earlier this year was supposed to be a defining one for Democrats, or their base voters, because of their supposed moral clarity and sense of social justice. Hillary Clinton is a johnny-come-lately, and -weakly, on criminal justice reform.
Nick Gillespie also wrote how Biden wanted to increase the failed Drug War, and even once said there needed to be “another D-Day,” and isn’t at all in favor of entitlement reform, even if the system is going to collapse at some point. Biden has also fallen for some of the scare tactics used about campus sex assaults, and swore the U.S. would hold Iran accountable for a May 2016 missile test (which somehow didn’t violate the nuke agreement). So, he still would have been a pretty awful presidential candidate, even if an imagined Trump-Biden debate series would have been pretty entertaining.
Is Biden 2020 likely? I’m with Jazz that it’s doubtful, but you never know. The Democrats have a pretty short bench with Warren, Sanders, the Castro brothers in Texas, O’Malley, and whether Clinton tries again for a run. But the GOP has a pretty short bench too. Remember how last year’s election was to show just how deep the GOP was? That flamed out pretty quickly with Trump’s ascension, but who knows in American politics. It’s just as likely Michelle Obama will be the 2020 Democratic nominee with Melania Trump running against her in 2024, at the rate this is going.