“He operated at a different time and environment and will have a lot to answer for,” a former Obama-Biden aide told The Daily Beast. “Look at Hillary Clinton’s numbers before she got into the 2016 race. The most popular moment is when you’re a prospective candidate and a statesman who can shape the field from the outside. Being in presidential campaigns tends to be diminishing for everyone except for the victor.”…

Neither Biden nor his team appear naive about the process ahead. His decades in public office will yield a treasure trove of votes and actions for progressives to use against him. And should he make it through the primary, a showdown with President Trump would devolve into a particularly nasty form of campaign politics. Through those turns, Biden’s current political legacy would undoubtedly suffer some bruises.

But supporters say he considers the risk worth it. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), a longtime friend and ally of Biden’s, said Biden was prepared for the worst but driven by a sense of urgency about restoring America’s standing on the world stage. Leaning against a pillar in the ornate lobby of the Dover casino, after exuberantly shaking hands with nearly everyone who passed, the senator argued that few people in the country had a better disposition to handle Trump’s mudslinging.