You can find any number of politicians (or business leaders, actors or rap stars) who have “not ruled out” a 2020 presidential run yet. That’s a favorite headline when some media outlet wants to generate a few clicks, but it’s usually meaningless if the media was the source of the rumor in the first place. Not so with Joe Biden. He has a team of advisers in place along with a staff that’s been with him since the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and he’s clearly tempted to take one more bite at the apple. Despite several failed attempts in the past, his advisers say that he’s giving the question serious consideration and will be making a decision by January. (Associated Press)
Biden himself is more conflicted — but he is listening keenly to the supporters pushing him to run for the White House in 2020. Biden is convinced he can beat President Donald Trump, friends and advisers say, and he has given himself until January to deliberate and size up potential competition for the Democratic nomination, according to people who have spoken to the former vice president about his decision-making.
In the meantime, Biden diligently maintains a network of supporters in key states, a group 30 years in the making, while some of those competitors are still making introductions.
As he takes each careful step, Biden faces the same dilemma. For an elder statesman in a leaderless party, one who long envisioned himself in the top job, the pull toward another presidential bid is strong. But the 75-year-old former vice president must weigh the realities of jumping into a crowded primary full of up-and-comers eager to debate the future of the party.
I’ve said this here before and nothing has changed my mind since then. For all the jokes we may make about “crazy Uncle Joe” and his lengthy history of memorable, awkward moments, I still maintain that Joe Biden remains the most formidable threat to Donald Trump as a 2020 adversary of all the people we’ve heard mentioned for the nomination thus far. You can chuckle at him all you like, but people really like Joe Biden. He’s a likable guy. And while others talk about being a “man of the people” when courting your votes, Biden really sells it and, for the most part, has lived that role. If there were any significant scandals surrounding Biden we’d know about it by now and there’s almost certainly no flood of oppo sitting in a folder out there waiting to trip him up.
One of the biggest limiting factors would be his age since he will be 77 when he takes office if he’s elected. But in some ways that makes Trump the perfect opponent for Joe because the President will be pushing 75 at his second inauguration. That’s pretty much a wash and Biden appears to be in fine health.
None of this, however, is Biden’s real problem. While he probably stands a great chance of beating Donald Trump in the general election, his major hurdle would once again be getting to the general election. The primary field won’t magically clear for him and this isn’t really the era of old school, establishment moderate Democrats. Another way of saying this is that the base isn’t exactly clamoring for another white, male septuagenarian at the moment. I think most of the base will happily cheer Joe on as an elder statesman if he wants to help out on the campaign trail, but for an actual candidate, they’re looking for somebody younger with a lot more socialist, XX chromosome and racially “diverse” profile.
If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that this is what Biden is going to be pondering between now and January. He’s not afraid of taking on Trump. Far from it, in fact. But he’s been down this road too many times before. He tried to grab the nomination in 1988 and 2008, being turned away both times. Does he really want to end his career by going zero for three?