The worst kept secret in politics is that Joe Biden is running for president. It’s so bad that even Ol’ Scrappy Joe can’t keep the secret himself.
“It can't go on like this, folks. I know I get criticized and told I get criticized by the new left,” Biden told Delaware Democrats on CNN last week. “have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United States.” Biden quickly corrected himself, adding, “Anybody who would run!”
The slip of the tongue may not have been intentional, but then again Biden has been stringing Democrats along for months with his vacillations on whether to mount a 2020 campaign or sit out the election as he did in 2016. With the 2020 Democratic field looking increasingly leftist and inexperienced, many moderates, including quite a few moderate Republicans, are hoping for a Biden candidacy.
However, Biden hit upon the key objection to that many Democrats will have to his nomination, namely that the Democratic Party has moved left in the past few years, leaving many to question whether the aging Delaware politician is too far out of the modern Democratic mainstream. There is also the question of whether an aging white man can edge out competition that includes both women and ethnic minorities in the new Democratic Party.
Perhaps following a strategy that understands that the buzz over whether he will get in the race or not is keeping attention turned away from the other hopefuls, Biden continues to be coy about running even as he secures endorsements and weighs the possibility of an early announcement about a running mate.
Biden met with Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, last week. The meeting fueled speculation that Abrams was under consideration for the vice-presidential slot as a strategy to help shore up support among black voters. Many black voters did not show up for Hillary Clinton in 2016, which helped Donald Trump to secure a slim victory in the Electoral College. Abrams has not announced a presidential campaign but tweeted on March 11 that “2020 is definitely on the table.”
Hillary also had problems motivating young voters. Polling shows that young Democrats favor Biden over other candidates, but there is also speculation that picking Beto O’Rourke for vice president could help Biden shore up support among millennials as well as put Texas in play. However, since Beto is running his own campaign, choosing him as a running mate would mean that an early announcement would be less likely.
O’Rourke’s fundraising prowess would also benefit the Biden campaign. CNN notes that Biden has said that he would not use Super PACs. There are concerns that the senior citizen is not adept at using social media to drive fundraising.
“I think he in certain ways has been wise to string this out because the shorter the race, the better for him. He doesn't have the same demands that others have except for one that's going to be a challenge perhaps for him and that's raising money,” said David Axelrod, former adviser to President Obama. “Joe Biden's not by generation and nature a social media candidate. So, he can't delay this much longer. He has to get around to the business of raising the resources that he needs.”
With all the speculation and attention focused on the former vice president, expectations are high for Biden’s eventual rollout. His announcement is likely to be closely followed by endorsements from a number of high-profile current and former Democratic officials and a fundraising push. While Biden has consistently led in polling of Democratic preferences, a key metric for his campaign will be whether he can match the $6 million raised by Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke in the first day of their official campaigns. If he cannot match these two rivals, it will not bode well for his campaign.
Joe Biden is currently the Democrat to beat even though he isn’t officially in the race, but if the gaffe-prone political veteran flubs the rollout of his campaign or if interest in his candidacy doesn’t translate into dollars, he could prove to be a shooting star, shining brightly for a few seconds and then disappearing.
Originally published on the Resurgent