The New York Times, fresh off a bitter lambasting from Hillary Clinton's campaign, explored rumors over the weekend that Vice President Joe Biden is considering jumping into the 2016 presidential contest. The story quotes sources close to the Biden camp and reports that the Vice President's son's dying wish was for his father to take another shot at the White House:
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his associates have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign, an entry that would upend the Democratic field and deliver a direct threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton, say several people who have spoken to Mr. Biden or his closest advisers. Mr. Biden’s advisers have started to reach out to Democratic leaders and donors who have not yet committed to Mrs. Clinton or who have grown concerned about what they see as her increasingly visible vulnerabilities as a candidate. The conversations, often fielded by Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, have taken place in hushed phone calls and over quiet lunches...On Saturday, the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported that Mr. Biden had been holding meetings at his residence, “talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in” to challenge Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states….Ms. Dowd reported that as Beau Biden lay dying from brain cancer, he “tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” Mr. Biden’s other son, Hunter, also encouraged him to run, she wrote. The support Mr. Biden has garnered speaks to growing concerns among Democrats that Mrs. Clinton could lose in Iowa and New Hampshire, as the populist message of one of her opponents, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, draws swelling crowds.
Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted on Twitter that the network's Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry beat the Times to the story last week:
In any case, Biden's entry into the race would be something of a game-changer, challenging Hillary Clinton's diminished but still dominant position as the Democratic frontrunner. He has high name recognition as the sitting Vice President and would have access to elements of the powerful fundraising and campaign machine that twice got his ticket elected. His presence in the race may also keep President Obama sidelined throughout the primaries; Obama might decline to publicly take sides in a battle between his two-time running mate and his former Secretary of State -- who'd be the heavy favorite. With an endless stream of stories about Mrs. Clinton's ethical (and potentially legal) problems and influence peddling making headlines week after week, some Democrats are growing concerned about her viability in a general election. Her favorability ratings have taken a dive, along with her marks on honesty and empathy. Democrats who oppose Mrs. Clinton's candidacy have begun rallying around self-described Socialist Bernie Sanders, whose far-Left ideology and unpolished demeanor and appearance likely render him unelectable. Biden would offer a more plausible, more mainstream non-Clinton alternative. But Biden comes with baggage and vulnerabilities of his own: He's seen by many as an avuncular gaffe machine, a reputation that is well earned. He'd also have zero wiggle room to break with the Obama record, and voters are not enamored with the notion of a third Obama term. And Biden polls worse than Hillary in head-to-head match-ups with leading GOP contenders:
Whether Biden could take Hillary out is also an open question; he'd be a major underdog, but polling suggests that his potential support would come disproportionately at her expense. I'll leave you with Chuck Todd speculating -- or reporting? -- that the 'Biden's getting serious' whispers are actually being spread by Team Hillary, as a means of "trying to smoke [Biden] out." Hmmm:
Oh, one more set of data points:
If Biden enters the race, the ages of the top 3 Democratic contenders would be 67, 72, and 73.— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) August 1, 2015
For the diversity conscious who are critical of an alleged lack of non-white men in Republican '16 field: GOP 5/17>Dems 1/5— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) July 31, 2015
The addition of Biden would make the Democrats' field even older and even whiter.