Joe Biden does not have the best track record when it comes to mounting presidential campaigns. He ran in the 1988 campaign, but dropped out after it was discovered that portions of his speech were similar to those given by UK Labour Leader Neil Kinnock. In 2007, he managed to clinch a whopping 1 percent in the Iowa Caucuses, but he’s now the Vice President of the United States; a role he reportedly revels in at the Obama White House.
Regardless, Politico reported back in October that there are some on his staff who are convinced he would run after 2012–and there are some who think otherwise. As for presidential ambitions regarding his various trips across the country, it’s very hard to read the tea leaves there as well:
He’s made appearances in Florida, South Carolina and New Hampshire, but they’ve been brief. Three days after Clinton headlined Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry last month, Biden jumped on a plane to Des Moines to join a dozen sisters kicking off their “Nuns on the Bus” cross-country voter registration and social-justice tour. His office said the trip was an official event, nothing to do with politics or Clinton’s visit. In Washington and in Iowa both, he came across as not wanting to leave Clinton unanswered in Iowa.
He’s worked with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee to coordinate some of his travel. Sometimes, people don’t know what he’s up to at all. When Biden arrived two weeks ago in Columbia, South Carolina, for a get-out-the-vote rally and state Democratic Party fundraiser — catching up with an old commitment to the DNC to do some voting rights events in the South — a number of key Washington operatives learned about the stop from news reports once he was already there.
Or Biden stops come together like this: Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley is friends with his son Beau from their work together as AGs, so her campaign calls Biden’s office directly to work out the campaign schedule that generated a fundraiser at the Banshee Pub in Cambridge. Or he’s in Los Angeles with one candidate for a House seat and another for California secretary of state, and jumps up to Portland for a walk through town with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that was most memorable for the unplanned but instantly viral photo of him with an ice cream cone, those aviator glasses and a fistful of $10 bills.
Biden’s not the kind of person to think much about things like a field director when making his decisions, and he appears to be working under the assumption that he’d be able to put together another late-breaking staff, like he did in 1987 and 2007. He toyed with the idea of a leadership PAC, but that never came together in large part due to concerns it would play too much into the prospective presidential narrative.
Biden tells a story he’s told before, a lesson he says he learned in his earliest days in the Senate, when candidates kept asking him his secret to winning.
Simple, Biden remembers saying.
“You have to figure out what’s worth losing over.”
Biden will be close to his mid-70s if he mounts another bid for the White House in 2016. He’s the vice president, a former U.S. Senator, and oodles of experience in public life. After his VP stint, Biden will probably slip into political and historical obscurity–along with the vast majority of U.S. Vice Presidents–after he leaves office. So, what does he have to lose? Nothing.
If he wins, he wins. If not, it’s one last hurrah in public life before retiring after decades of service. Whether you agree with his political positions in that regard is a different story. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of you haven’t taken too kindly to his liberalism; you’re not alone.
If he does run and challenges Hillary’s potential campaign to a debate, she would have to oblige him. While former Sen. Jim Webb thinks he can beat her, she could ignore him and starve him of oxygen, forcing Webb to drop out. With a former Vice President of the United States, that’s not an option.
Then, you get two candidates whose gaffes have been widely reported in the media on the same stage together. That’s quite the popcorn moment.
Biden, who’s seen as a good surrogate, could tap into the neo-populist mood with this pro-middle class messages, but the GOP actually won or was competitive with those voters. Another thing going against him is that Clinton is trouncing him in the polls. Yet, that didn’t stop Barack Obama, but Obama was also young; Biden is not.
At Politico’s recent Women Rule event, the vice president said he really has not made up his mind on the issue of running for the presidency (via the Hill):
"I honest to God haven't made up my mind,” Biden said…
The one thing that moves me — I think that I have the ability to bring the sides together,” he added.
Biden’s daughter Ashley appeared on stage with him at the event, and called his potential presidential aspirations a “family decision.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is far and away the Democratic presidential frontrunner, leading her rivals by more than 50 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.