Bernie Sanders, with his call for Democratic socialism; Kamala Harris, with her intensifying emphasis on racial disparities; Elizabeth Warren, with her encyclopedia of plans; Pete Buttigieg, with his husband and his mere 37 years on earth — the election of any one of them would be a bold statement, a milestone. Each is a figure exponentially more romantic than Biden, counting to some degree on the adage that while Republican voters fall in line, Democratic voters fall in love.

Biden, in contrast, is trying to get Democrats to do something that Republicans have more practice at: choose a nominee who’s due over one who’s new. He’s the liberal iteration of Bob Dole, the looser version of Mitt Romney, John McCain without Lindsey Graham glued to his side.

He has his raft of policy positions — many of them echoes or adaptations of Obama’s — but they’re not what his supporters think of first. They’re not what he thinks of first, either.