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Joe Biden 2016?

Biden Sunglasses

For five years now, Vice-President Joe Biden, who has run for President on two previous occasions, has played a very coy game on the question of whether or not he is considering a third run for the office in 2016. As many have observed already, he would be 74 years old on Inauguration Day 2017, making him the oldest person in history to assume the Presidency at the age of 74, and even older than Ronald Reagan was when he was sworn in for his second term at the age of 73 years, 649 days). Were he to run for a second term in 2020, he would be more than 78 years old on Inauguration Day 2021. Given that, and the fact that polling has consistently shown him trailing Hillary Clinton by large numbers, many have assumed that in the end Biden would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor in office and decline to run for his party’s nomination. At the same time, though, Biden has differentiated himself from Dick Cheney by being far more active on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates in 2010, 2012, and now in 2014 and by keeping to a schedule that at least makes it appear as if he’s seriously considering the idea of throwing his hat into the ring yet again.

With the 2014 midterms in full swing already and speculation already turning toward a 2016 cycle that will, unofficially at least, start on the day after the votes are counted in the midterms, Biden is still keeping his options open:

Vice President Joe Biden joked this week that being able to drive his Corvette – is one good reason not to run. But, when asked to give another good reason not to run, Biden responded simply.

“I can’t.”

“There may be reasons I don’t run, but there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run,” he said in the interview with Kate Bolduan on CNN’s “New Day.”

Biden went on to say he would make a decision “realistically, a year this summer.”

This interview took place at one stop along Biden’s campaign-style tour pushing the President’s “year of action” as set out from the State of the Union address.

The President is giving Biden six months to develop a task force to reform federal jobs training and bridge more than 10 million unemployed Americans with unfilled jobs.

Without engaging in speculation, it’s hard to know just how serious Biden is here. As I noted, there are plenty of factors to indicate that, in the end, he’ll take the same route that Dick Cheney did in 2008 and bow out of the race, although for far different reasons. At the same time, much like Al Gore during the Clinton Presidency and George H.W. Bush during the Reagan Presidency, Biden has spent his time in the Vice-Presidency acting like a person who is at least seriously considering the idea of running for President notwithstanding the fact that the last time he made the attempt it ended in ignominious defeat. Many pundits have suggested that Biden is deliberately playing his cards close to his vest when it comes to his 2016 because it remains unclear what Hillary Clinton will ultimately do. Under this theory, if Hillary does indeed run as most people expect she will, then Biden will defer going for the big chair and endorse Clinton in the name of party unity. If she doesn’t run on the other hand, or if her campaign appears to be faltering early on for some reason, then the Vice-President would be there to step in, although one suspects that there would be a whole host of other candidates, including people like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who would be willing to do so as well.

How successful a Presidential candidate would Biden be in 2016? That’s hard to say. While conservatives tend to treat the Vice-President as a buffoon, something which generally seems to be true of all holders of that office since John Adams took on the duty under George Washington, it strikes me that he’s been a far savvier politician than his opponents have given him credit for over the years. Indeed, in many of the sh0wdowns between the Republicans in Congress and the White House over the budget and related issues that have cropped up in recent years, it’s been Joe Biden who has been at the center of the ultimate resolution of the crisis, sometimes to the consternation of the President’s closest advisers. Additionally, it was Joe Biden who helped push the President toward publicly endorsing marriage equality earlier than White House political advisers were hoping for, something which heard the Vice-President some serious street cred with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Biden has also proven to be a fairly good stump speaker in his appearances for fellow Democrats over the years, and he seems to have an even better populist appeal with audiences than the President does at times. Indeed, many of the “Bidenisms” that people make fun of seem to be the things that the crowds like the most. Whether that would help him in a Presidential campaign is unclear, but I think it’s foolish to write him out of the picture completely at this point.

In the end, I think Biden will end up staying out of the race, mostly because I think it’s eminently clear that Hillary Clinton is indeed running and that Biden will defer to her rather than risking either third-time-around electoral humiliation or an intra-party fight in the Democratic Party. However, there’s a lot that can happen between now and the summer of 2015 so I suppose that anything is possible.

Besides, the prospect of a Biden White House run would mean more gems like this from the guys at The Onion.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    The age issue is important, no matter what people say, also, he just doesn’t seem ‘presidential’ to me. That said, put him next to Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, or Mike Huckabee and Joe seems to be very ‘presidential.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  2. Electroman says:

    I love the “Tan, rested and ready” line. I remember the origin quite well. ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Pinky says:

    He is probably the best populist speech-giver the party has.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. bandit says:

    @al-Ameda: To paraphrase Borat ‘The retardation’ is an issue too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  5. Woody says:

    My prediction is that this post will be the only Biden ’16 story worth reading.

    I really appreciated the acknowledgement that Mr Biden has political chops. Like Speaker Boehner, I think he’s underestimated in terms of savvy and ability, particularly by partisans of other ideologies.

    Of course, I also concur with his fabulous Onion series.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. PJ says:

    @bandit:
    Still working as a dog catcher?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  7. Gustopher says:

    I love Biden, and I don’t want to see him go. But, I don’t think people see him as Presidential material. I think he would do great in the job, but that he can’t win the primaries — too old, not enough gravitas, etc. Just doesn’t fit the mold. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and that can come across as uncontrolled buffoon, despite all his accomplishments.

    Maybe Vice President again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Faced with Hillary Clinton v. Jeb Bush….
    I’ll take anyone…including Biden.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  9. Franklin says:

    Bob Gates probably wouldn’t vote for him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @bandit:

    @al-Ameda: To paraphrase Borat ‘The retardation’ is an issue too

    I have to respectively disagree with you. I do not think of retardation when I think of Rick Santorum. Malevolent? Yes, retardation no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  11. C. Clavin says:

    Rand Paul still thinks Bill Clinton is an issue…in an interview with C-Span to air this weekend:

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) again called out former President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal — which took place 16 years ago — saying Democrats should return any money raised with his help.
    Paul implied Democrats who claim Republicans are waging a “war on women” are hypocritical if they’ve worked with Clinton, according to CNN.
    “They can’t have it both ways. And so I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do,” Paul said. “In fact, I think they should give the money back.”

    Say what you will about the VP…but what a bunch of losers Republicans have become.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Biden – 2016…. Pleeeeeasssse? Pullleeeeeeezzzzzzeee????? Let the fun begin. (and for the record I love the guy, but that would be absolutely gaffetastic!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Surreal American says:

    So it’s ok to make jokes at the expense of the mentally handicapped now? I was under the impression that such humor was frowned upon by conservatives because mean ol’ Obama made an inappropriate barb about the Special Olympics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: Is Biden the Hubert Humphrey of our time? Senator/VP Humphrey was effective, popular, and respected by both parties. If there had been one more week in the campaign, he would have beat Richard Nixon in 1968. Unfortunately, he had a war on his hands and that was a huge mill stone. Lesson there is don’t dare get in an election with an on going war on your record. If it had not been for Vietnam a lot of things would have been different.
    Hillary might stumble. Anything is possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Paul Hooson says:

    Joe Biden is a decent and loyal man, but he’ll never be president, nor should he ever be president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0