“Joe Biden still wants to be president,” the Washington Post reported ten days ago. How many others share the former VP’s desire? Not enough where it matters, The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports today. And allies of Biden’s former boss appear to be putting the kibosh on the Biden Express:
On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s stunning Election Day defeat, the donors say they are picking up on the party’s mood for a new direction and that they have to be practical about who they back financially.
“[We’ve] gotta be realistic and strategic, not emotional,” said one top fundraiser to the Obama-Biden tickets in 2008 and 2012. Democrats can’t support a candidate over obligation, the fundraiser added.
“There are some who love Joe and have a lot of respect for him but want a whole new face for the party and want an aspirational voice,” acknowledged a second Obama-Biden donor, who would only speak on background in order to discuss reservations about Biden more candidly.
At 74 now, Biden seems like an unlikely candidate for 2020, even apart from all other issues. But one point in particular seems to be bothering Obama donors, and that’s Biden’s address for the last forty-plus years. He’s too much a part of the establishment, donors tell Parnes, and that he represents the Democratic Party’s history:
“I hate to say it, because I love Joe, but some feel he’s yesterday’s news,” one donor said.
“Elections are about the future not the past,” one Obama fundraiser put it when asked why he would likely not support Biden.
Not to argue against the Democratic youth movement, but that past included times when Democrats won a lot more elections than they have recently. Whatever else anyone wants to say about Biden, he understood how to connect with voters outside the urban/coastal enclaves that have defined the Democrats over the last few years. Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand have not shown any capacity for that, and neither has Elizabeth Warren on the older end of the spectrum.
That, however, is more of a judgment on how progressives like Warren and Bernie Sanders have pushed Democrats to become more extreme, not a case for Biden. Biden might have won the nomination last year and then the election had Democrats not done everything possible to lock up the primaries for a coronation of Hillary Clinton, beginning in late 2014. By the time Biden was ready to move on from his son’s tragic death, the donors had already committed to Clinton … and paid the price a year later.
Now, however, Biden 2020 is not going to fly. He’s too tied into the party establishment to gain traction among the progressives, while the establishment is looking for a younger face to appeal to the progressives. Biden missed his window, just as Democrats appear to be missing theirs by doubling down on the kind of progressivism popular on college campuses and City Halls, and practically nowhere else.