The 2020 Democratic primary seems to be heating up this week. Yesterday Ed noted some fresh evidence that Hillary Clinton may be thinking about running again. Today, Politico reports that Joe Biden is privately whispering to friends that 2020 may be his time:
Joe Biden thinks it’s critical that Donald Trump not get a second term — and though it’s early, he doesn’t yet see anyone else who could stop that from happening.
So, he’s been telling people privately, that might mean he’ll just have to run himself.
After beginning the year both teasing a 2020 bid and ruling one out — sometimes on the same day — Biden in recent months has shifted unmistakably in favor of running, say multiple people who’ve been in touch with the former vice president and his team.
For the first time in what would be the sixth presidential campaign that he’s either seriously flirted with or launched, Biden sees an argument for a candidacy for which he is the only answer: An elder statesman who can help repair the damage and divisions in the country and around the world, unite the competing wings of the Democratic Party, and appeal to traditional Democratic voters who fled last year for Trump.
“He’s a great respecter of fate,” said one person close to the former vice president. “At some point, it may turn into fate and planning.”
Biden will start a book tour in New York on Monday that is currently scheduled to last for two months. The story says the tour is designed to test Biden’s “emotional stamina” but at 74-years-old I think the real concern might be his plain-old stamina. After all, 10 appearances in 2 months is nowhere close to the pace expected of a presidential candidate. Will Biden be up for 10 appearances a week when he is 77-years-old?
An unnamed donor tells Politico, “If someone emerges that the former VP believes can beat [Trump], I think he is at peace with that.” The donor adds, “On the other hand, if that person doesn’t exist or doesn’t run, you can expect Joe Biden to take a very serious look.” In other words, Biden’s not so committed to the idea of running that he would refuse to step aside for the right candidate. Would he count Hillary Clinton as someone who could beat Trump? What about Bernie Sanders?
I’m not convinced Biden has much of a chance at the nomination. It seems more likely to me he’s looking to raise his profile a bit for the sake of playing kingmaker somewhere down the line. We’ll have a much better idea one year from now who is really running in 2020 and who is just talking about it.