Like Rodney Dangerfield, poor Joe Biden can’t get any respect.
While on a book tour last December, former VP Joe Biden told a group of people in Montana that he had given himself a two month window to decide on another possible presidential run while pointing out his bonafides. The Hill reported at the time:
While Biden hasn’t made a decision about the 2020 race, he is sounding increasingly like a presidential candidate. In Montana, Biden said he was “the most qualified person in the country to be president.”
“I’ve been doing this my whole adult life, and the issues that are the most consequential relating to the plight of the middle class and our foreign policy are things that I have — even my critics would acknowledge, I may not be right, but I know a great deal about it,” he said, according to CNN.
Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago, when he told a crowd of supporters in Florida that he would have definitive answers on questions about a potential 2020 bid “soon.”
While he hasn’t made it official, the way he talks at public speaking engagements like the one last month gives off the impression he wants to get back into the ring.
But should he? McClatchy talked to over two dozen Democratic strategists from different parts of the country about Biden. Their assessment of a Biden candidacy was almost universal:
“This last election cycle, we’ve seen a whole new level of energy that has emerged through a lot of fresh faces, and the party has moved in that direction and wants to hear new ideas and different messages,” said Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party who now works as a consultant in the state.
Added Jim Manley, longtime Democratic operative: “I’m not convinced Biden is the right way to go at this point in time.”
“Among political professionals, there are deep concerns because we know the history,” said a Pennsylvania-based Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about a party elder. “We have reason to be skeptical of the hype.”
“We heard it with Hillary, and we saw it happened,” the source added. “And there’s a lot of reason to think he would wind up a significantly weaker candidate than Hillary.”
“Let’s be honest: He’s an older white guy,” said Jim Cauley, a longtime Kentucky-based Democratic strategist. “Does he connect with the base?”
The biggest issues the strategists pointed out were that he might not be progressive enough for the Democratic base and that with his long political career comes a lot of baggage, too. Some also cited his penchant for gaffes and speaking off the cuff, which in the current outrage culture we live in could be a definite downside to a future Biden run.
And let’s face it, folks, he’s got a pretty extensive gaffe reel that not even this MSNBC clip roundup completely covers:
Something to also consider is that Biden, like Hillary Clinton, has run for president twice unsuccessfully. Is he meant to always be a bridesmaid and never a bride?
On the flip side, early polling numbers suggest both he and 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders would be front-runners should they declare their intentions to run. They have the name recognition, an established political machine, and a support network that goes back decades from their time in DC. Plus, Biden has 8 years of vice presidential experience under his belt.
But, say the strategists, that may not be enough:
Democratic strategists vow that fighting for moderate voters remains imperative. But the recent defeats of old-guard Democratic candidates in red states such as Evan Bayh in Indiana in 2016 or Phil Bredesen in Tennessee in 2018 has convinced some that no candidate, no matter how skilled, can bring back voters who haven’t backed Democrats in years.
“The old coalitions, they don’t come back,” said a Senate Democratic strategist. “You have to build new ones.”
“Love Joe Biden,” the strategist said. “Not his time.”
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.