Why Joe Biden Should Run for President
Vice President Joe Biden
The Success of Bernie, and Weakness of Hillary, Makes a Biden Candidacy Plausible
Joe Biden is a wildcard. The two-time Democratic presidential candidate, who ended up as Barack Obama's running mate in 2008 after ending his own campaign, has remained coy about his 2016 aspirations. In his second term as vice president, Biden has a golden opportunity to make a third bid for the Oval Office. According to The New York Times, the veep appears to be actively exploring such a bid after months of silence.
A Biden candidacy would be a game-changer not seen since 1968, when incumbent president Lyndon B. Johnson chose not to seek the Democratic nomination.
Joe Biden's sudden interest in 2016 could stem from two things: A Bernie Sanders success and a Hillary Clinton weakness. Biden, who turns 73 this November, may have avoided a 2016 bid due to his age. His main rival, Hillary Clinton, is five years younger, and Biden may have feared his age being an issue. In 2008, after all, Democrats openly questioned whether Republican presidential nominee John McCain, age 72, was too old for the rigors of the Oval Office.
But now that progressive candidate Bernie Sanders, who turns 75 this September, has enjoyed unprecedented success, Biden may be feeling more confident that his own age is a non-issue. Sanders is also known for his bluntness, similar to Biden, and the public's appreciation of Sanders' outspoken ways may also be contributing to Biden's renewed interest in running. An old guy who speaks his mind seeing unexpected success on the campaign trail? If it has worked for Sanders, it might also work for Joe Biden.
Biden's renewed interest may be heavily linked to the public's acceptance of Sanders' age and outspokenness, but it is also undoubtedly reinforced by Sanders' success in gaining ground on Hillary Clinton. Similar to 2008, when Clinton began as the oft-proclaimed "inevitable" nominee but began losing ground to other candidates, 2016 seems to be a more wide-open race than pundits once predicted. Despite remaining the frontrunner for the nomination, Clinton has many weaknesses as a candidate and is unable to seal the deal with voters.
Over time, Clinton has become increasingly dogged by scandal and media discontent. Biden may see this as his time to jump into the fray and replace Clinton as the establishment candidate. As vice president, he holds tremendous power as a Washington insider. As an old, outspoken Northeasterner who has decades of Congressional experience, he also has strong resemblances to Bernie Sanders. Could Biden be considering a bid as a self-styled midpoint between scandal-plagued Hillary Clinton and popular-but-struggling Bernie Sanders?
Due to Biden's age, 2016 is his last chance at a presidential bid. Why not run? He has nothing to lose, and everything to gain. At the very least, he will increase the competitiveness of the 2016 Democratic primaries. Most of the competition will be placed on Clinton, who will have to contend with an establishment rival. This will force Clinton to abandon her media-at-arm's-length strategy and run a more open, fast-paced campaign. With the Republicans fielding seventeen candidates, why shouldn't the Democrats be able to choose from among five? Currently, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and Lincoln Chafee are the only four big-name Democratic contenders.
Bernie Sanders' supporters would certainly relish a Biden campaign, which would put pressure more on Clinton than on Sanders. Republicans, stressed over their own overcrowded field of candidates, would also applaud a bit more heated competition among the Democrats. Barack Obama, automatically expected to endorse his vice president, would enjoy not having to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. For most Americans, a Joe Biden candidacy is a good thing.
Full disclosure: As a Bernie Sanders supporter, I hope Joe Biden runs his heart out and makes Hillary Clinton scramble.