And so we wait.
We don’t know what Joe Biden is going to do. He could jump in the presidential race, as late as it is, despite Hillary Clinton’s huge head start and her sizable advantages in money, staff, organization and the opportunity to make history. And there’s Bernie Sanders to consider as well. Those who feel Clinton is too tied to Wall Street, or too pro-military, or has too many controversies swirling around her, well, they have Bernie as an alternative. (Actually, I suspect Sanders’ supporters are focusing less on Hillary’s email server and more on Bernie’s positions on the issues.)
But there are those in the Democratic Party who are worried about Clinton’s rising unfavorable polling numbers and her flippant responses to the controversies (“hey, I have Snapchat!”). Some think that Biden — not the “Crazy Uncle” Biden of years past, but the the loyal and effective vice president, the person who is grieving over the latest unfathomable loss in his personal life — has earned the right to be considered for another presidential bid, should he want it.
How odd is it that for years we’ve criticized Biden for his outlandish gaffes and wish he showed more self control, while at the same time we criticize Clinton for her oh-so-careful and often evasive responses to every question put to her? And how much would we give to see a contest between Mr. Completely Unfiltered and Ms. Totally Scripted?
Ultimately, of course, Joe Biden needs to do what’s best for him and his family. And he will. But we put the question to our readers and here are some of their responses.
J. McCrackan, Evanston, Ill.: “Not even for the benefit of us junkies. After having suffered so much in the past year, to be crushed beneath the Hillary juggernaut—for lose he would, having little to offer Democrats that she hasn’t already—would be very painful to witness. Grace isn’t Biden’s forte, but he would be doing a favor for himself, the party, and anyone with a sympathetic heart by retiring with the president.”
Kerry McGill: “I think he should run and will run. Hillary is being flippant and acts like she is already president. The server flap itself will not do her in, but the way she is handling it will, as it is seen as pure Clinton.”
Bill Steigman: “Despite my fondness for Joe, lack of enthusiasm for Hillary, and my belief that serving as VP has made him the most qualified Democrat to succeed President Obama, I think he should not run because he is unlikely to win the nomination or the election. Should the unlikely occur — Hillary’s campaign for the nomination falters and fails — it would be nice to think that Joe could be waiting in the wings.”
Laura Easey Jones: “He should not run. He should get behind Hillary and show some unity in the Democratic Party. It will be a sharp contrast to the Republicans who have the entire Zoo running for President.”
Paul Kuppinger: “Joe Biden should NOT run for president. Sad to say, his time has passed and the deck is stacked against him.”
Kate Sullivan: “He should run.”
Howard Mintz, Boca Raton, Fla.: “As a man, I think VERY highly of him. He is someone I would want to hang out with and chew the fat. I do think that if he runs he will hurt the Democrats’ chances to win. The Republicans will bait him and he will take it hook, line and sinker and look crazy to all of those on the fence.”
Jonathan Yuengling, Norristown, Pa.: “Even with his age, Biden has the energy level and commitment to jump in and help his party in a time of need. It will also help to continue the linage and work of President Obama. I do not see money as being an issue; the donors are there ready to support him. Talented campaign workers will come out of the administration. Even the President appears to be waiting to support him. This is not the crazy Uncle Joe of a year ago. I do not think Clinton will go quietly, but with her record high negative approval numbers I see her options to be limited.”
Ron Merlo, Glendale, Calif.: “Joe should run. If Political Junkies have to suffer through a quadrennial circus for the next 15 months, we should have the maximum entertainment!”
J.D.: “I hope Joe does not run. We need an alternative to Hillary Clinton but Biden would soon be seen as too old school, not exciting to the electorate. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz would sure be interesting.”
Paul Doering: “He’s the only announced or potential candidate I’d trust with my freedom.”
Jerry Stephens, Edmond, Okla.: “It seems that Joe Biden is coming closer to the same perch now occupied by President Carter. It’s a position of great respect and fondness for Joe Biden’s entire career. That includes all of his accomplishments and his failings. Biden can become that retired statesman whose advice is heeded because of the wisdom associated with his experience. But that will come only if Biden retires in 2017 — which is what he should do by following the path laid out well by Carter. I fear that an active presidential campaign will tarnish his reputation in some way that would prevent our memories of him from being like those of President Carter.”
Mike Poling: “If we want experience, authenticity, energy and the ability to reach working class people, a Joe Biden-Elizabeth Warren ticket would be an unstoppable force in both the primaries and the general election. These two people have what it takes to recapture the so-called Reagan Democrats in key swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.”
Garrett Dill: “I think he should run but has little chance of winning. None of the current Democratic candidates appeals to me. But Trump is such a disgusting choice that if he should be nominated I could then vote for Biden.”
Marcie Bader: “He probably thinks he needs the distraction, but it will just be more heartache in the end.”
Steve Martin, Vernon Hills, Ill.: “Ultimately he’ll decide not to run but will let it be known he’ll be open to a draft at the convention if Hillary is in real trouble.”
Robert Garmong, Dalian, China: “I am a Republican, but the social conservatism of the party these days makes me long for an alternative. If Biden isn’t too far left on economic issues, but upholds important social liberty such as abortion and free speech, I could be persuaded to vote for him. I was leaning toward Hillary, but her ethical failings are too great.”
Janice Berman: “Sounds like he’s not planning to run, based on recent remarks. Bravo for a wonderful man who knows he has to have time to heal. I think based on his political experience and breadth of contacts, coupled with his enthusiasm, he would be an asset to any Democratic White House in any of a variety of official capacities. And I hope he goes in that direction.”
Ed Palmer, Garland, Tex.: “Joe has earned a pass, a permanent pass from the unkind jumble that American politics has descended into. I have supported him several times in past elections, but now I want him to retire with dignity while lessers beg for his endorsement and support. Godspeed, Joe.”
Ron Ostrowski: “I like Biden and would vote for him BUT he is old and all his gaffes would be used against him. He would be pilloried as being a little dense and would not get the nomination anyway. So go out on top and retire as an old statesman.”
J.D. Benson: “He should accept elder statesperson status and leave it to others to run for President. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, either … or both!”
jsfhbf1: “Run Joe run. My most beloved Joe Biden stands head and shoulders above the rest. On the issues — far too many to mention here — just know that he gets it.”
Mike Munhall, Bennington, N.H.: “A few weeks ago, I ran into Lincoln Chafee in Hillsborough, N.H. He asked me what I thought Joe Biden would do: would he jump in? I gave all the reasons why he wouldn’t, principally most of the money being tied up between Hillary and, what was left over, Bernie. Lincoln agreed, with a sigh. But then he added, ‘I think Joe will run.’ I asked him why. ‘I worked with Joe in the Senate and saw how he loves a challenge. I don’t think he can keep himself from running.’ So, Lincoln Chafee thinks Joe will run. I am still not so sure but anything can happen.”
Thank you, fellow political junkies, for your thoughts, insights and predictions!
ON THE CALENDAR:
Sept. 10 — Special election in Illinois’ 10th CD to succeed Aaron Schock (R).
Sept. 16 — Second Republican presidential debate, Reagan Library, Simi Valley, Calif. (CNN).
Oct. 9-10 — POLITICON conference, Los Angeles.
Oct. 13 — First Democratic presidential debate, Nevada (CNN).
Oct. 22 — Hillary Clinton scheduled to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
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This Day In Political History: At the final day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Sen. John McCain of Arizona officially accepts his party’s nomination for president, telling the cheering delegates, “Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big- spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second crowd: Change is coming.” He added, “I’m not in the habit of breaking my promises to my country, and neither is Governor Palin. And when we tell you we’re going to change Washington and stop leaving our country’s problems for some unluckier generation to fix, you can count on it” (Sept. 4, 2008).
Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin: email@example.com