Biden 2016?

Does Joe Biden think he can succeed his boss?

Politco notes today that Vice-President Biden sure seems to be acting like a Vice-President who is at least thinking about succeeding his boss in four years:

For the past couple of years, Vice President Joe Biden has quietly assembled an A-team of advisers who would, without doubt, be considered the nucleus of a presidential campaign — if only he wouldn’t be 73 in 2016.

Biden’s age would snuff the last embers of a presidential ambition that led him to a pair of crushing defeats in 1988 and 2008, or so many in Barack Obama’s camp thought when they first tapped him. But the old fire crackles yet. And Biden, spurred in part by those rumors about being replaced on the ticket by Hillary Clinton (who turns 69 in ’16), is campaigning with a young man’s tenacity in 2012 — with an eye toward keeping all of his options open.

Biden has gone on a recent staffing spree — culminating with the hire of Clinton-era operative Steve Ricchetti — that has many Democrats, and even some on Obama’s own team, wondering if the preternaturally spry and congenitally upbeat vice president just might confound conventional wisdom.

Former Sen. Ted Kaufman, a Biden friend, staffer and adviser since the early 1970s, said it’s “premature” to say Biden is laying the groundwork for a 2016 run but has no doubt that his golf-addicted buddy is physically capable of it.

“What I’ve been saying, and what I think he believes also, is that after this election is over, he should seriously think about 2016,” said Kaufman, who is part of an informal kitchen cabinet that includes Mike Donilon, whom Ricchetti is replacing, and former chief of staff Ron Klain, who’s been guiding Biden’s moves despite a day job advising ex-AOL impresario Steve Case.


“If I were him, I’d be thinking about running,” one Obama staffer said. “It would be stupid not to.”

A person close to Obama added: “I think 2016 is in the back of his mind, and his staff is doing its due diligence — but he’ll have nothing if we don’t win in 2012.”

That’s a seeming contrast with Clinton. The Washington parlor-game argument, made by some of Clinton’s more cynical supporters, is that the secretary of state might actually fare better if Obama loses. After all, voters would be looking for a fresh face, likely a Republican one, after eight years of Democrat rule.

It seems pretty far-fetched. As noted, Biden will be 73 years old in 2016 and, while his health at the moment appears fine, he does have a medical history that includes a stroke in 1989 that was so severe that he was given last rites by a Priest. He’s run for President twice and lost, badly. And even when he ran in 2008, the memories of his plagirism of speeches by Neil Kinnock during his 1988 campaign still came up. And, of course, there are his legendary albeit usually amusing gaffes. In a year when Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick could be among those thinking about succeeding Barack Obama, why would the Democratic Party turn to Joe Biden of all people? I mean he seems like a nice enough guy, probably great guy to have a beer with, but Presidential material? I just don’t see it.

My personal guess is that Biden won’t run, but if he’s serious about this then the years after 2012 are going to be interesting if the Obama/Biden team is re-elected. It won’t be too long after that election that some people, in both parties, are going to start positioning themselves for a Presidential run. Among Democrats, though, there’s going to be the added question of whether or not the Vice-President is going to run and I’d expect that we’ll see a lot of media speculation about his intentions, and the question of which potential candidates might be willing to blink first without knowing what Biden will do. And what will Obama do? Would he follow the example of Presidents Reagan and Bush, who essentially stayed neutral during the nomination contests in their party at the end of their second terms, or would he be more like Bill Clinton who was far more open about his support for Al Gore in 2000?

I still have a hard time seeing a 73 year old Joe Biden at the top of his party’s ticket, but stranger things have happened, so who knows, right?

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Rob in CT says:

    Hillary 2016 is far more likely, I figure.

    But of course, here we are talking about 2016 when 2012 hasn’t played out yet. Oy.

  2. Bennett says:

    @Rob in CT: If only this race was shaping up to be anything other than a landslide, it might be different.

    Personally, if Hillary doesn’t run, my money is on Cuomo.

  3. @Bennett:

    Don’t expect a landslide in 2012, even though it is likely Obama will win

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    My bet is on Cuomo.

    Possibly Tim Kaine depending on his fortunes this fall.

  5. Gromitt Gunn says:

    It would be really interesting to see it come down to Cuomo and O’Malley, since both governors have signed gay marriage legislation. For the Democratic Party to go from actively suppoting DOMA in 1996 to nominating a governor who legalized gay marriage in his state in 2016 is pretty amazing. 20 years in a just a blip in terms of making civil rights gains.

  6. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    By 2016 it’s doubtful that Biden even will be sentient much less capable of handling a national political campaign. Then again, if Mel Carnahan’s corpse can be elected to the U.S. Senate perhaps even a walking mannequin could get the presidential nomination of the Democrat Party.

    That aside, if Hillary runs it’s pretty difficult to envision anyone beating her. Keep in mind Hillary won virtually all of the big state primaries against Obama (CA, NY, OH, PA, NJ, Fla., MI), often by huge margins, and only failed to get the nod because Obama won 90% of the black vote in the Southern states and Obama won virtually all of the caucus states by 3-1 margins.

    If Hillary doesn’t run then I would presume Cuomo would get the nod, although Chuck Schumer might have something nasty to say about that.

  7. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    I think Joe’s foot-in-mouth disease and plagiarism scandals may be easier to live down than Cuomo’s girlfriend’s abominable Kwanzaa cake.

  8. Curtis says:

    Biden has done quite well as vice president, but I don’t know what kind of constituency he would have in running down the line. To the extent that there is a “next in line”, that person is Clinton, not Biden.

    The Democrat bench is deep, though, so I don’t think either of them will be the nominee. The Montanan Schweizer intrigues me in addition to several of the names mentioned above. I’d also be interested in Elizabeth Warren if she wins her race against Brown and performs well. But mainly I am getting geared up to beat Romney.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Then again, if Mel Carnahan’s corpse can be elected to the U.S. Senate…

    That says more about John Ashcroft than it does about anyone or anything else…

  10. Moosebreath says:

    Nice process post, Doug. Good way to keep us all from focusing on the issues.

  11. Brummagem Joe says:

    A Politico fantasy that like the vice presidency itself isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.

  12. MBunge says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: “That aside, if Hillary runs it’s pretty difficult to envision anyone beating her.”

    I don’t think Hillary really wants to get back on the horse and I don’t think she’d be a great candidate, but the pressure on her to give the Democrats the first female President after the first black one will be nigh irresistable.


  13. Ron Beasley says:

    God I hope the Republicans run someone who is sane in 2016.

  14. Brummagem Joe says:


    I don’t think she’d be a great candidate,

    Actually I think she’d be a fantastic candidate. She was only narrowly beaten last time and is it for nine or ten years on the trot that she’s been the most widely admired woman in America?

  15. rudderpedals says:

    The names called out above (except Scweizer who isn’t familiar) make a good tally of Dem candidates preferred from the right. They all have way too much finance industry baggage to excite me and I can’t remember ever knowingly voting for a righty. Why would the base want one of these people?

  16. superdestroyer says:

    Biden will be 72 y/a in 2016 and Hillary will be 68. They are both too old to be nominated by the Democratic Party that has gone much younger in the last few elections.

    If you want to know who will be president in Jan 2017, write down the names of all of the Democratic senators and governors in jan 2013 and then erase the names of everyone who did not attend Yale, Harvard, or Columbia for either undergraduate or graduate school.

    That list of names will contain the next president.

  17. superdestroyer says:


    Andre Cuomo is divorced, currently unmarried, and did not attend an Ivy League university. Cuomo does not stand a chance of being nominated by the Democratic Party.

  18. superdestroyer says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Kaine is a possibly if he wins since kaine will be a sitting Senator, will be less than 60, and attended Harvard law school.

  19. superdestroyer says:


    Neither Schwietzer or Warren attend an Ivy league school for undergraduate or graduate, thus, the Democrats will not nominate them.

  20. grumpy realist says:

    Biden == Wonder Bread. He’d be the ultimate “meh” candidate.

  21. MBunge says:

    @Brummagem Joe: “She was only narrowly beaten last time”

    She and the folks around her were completely outclassed by the Obama team on just about every level of that campaign. She was the the most popular and emotionally charged figure in the Democratic party and started that campaign with every possible advantage, yet still got beat by the black guy with the Muslim-sounding name. Hillary is Walter Mondale. She could cruise to the nomination without breaking much of a sweat, but the general election Hillary would be the same one who turned health care reform into a fiasco of Biblical proportions.


  22. @Neil Hudelson:

    This much I am sure of, if Andrew Cuomo wants to run he won’t play the same idiotic “Hamlet on the Hudson” game that his father did in 1992.

    Here’s the one thing that I’d look for. If he marries his girlfriend, then he might be running. If he doesn’t, he probably isn’t. I don’t think America is going to be ready for a divorced President with a girlfriend.

  23. Brummagem Joe says:


    She was the the most popular and emotionally charged figure in the Democratic party

    If you think this you have a short memory. Views of the Clintons were rather mixed as I recall and the media dumped on her from day one.

  24. Stella Jonson says:

    @superdestroyer: Clinton and Biden too old to run in 2016? That’s ageism. Reagan was 69 when when he took the presidential oath when he was 69-just a few weeks before his 70th birthday. Citing age as a disqualification for a run is a poor argument and is irrelevant.

    There’s a huge difference between Reagan and Biden or Clintonl: the latter two have extensive leadership, economic, administrative, and foreign policy experience. Reagan did not. I would not only vote for Joe Biden, but also campaign for him. I would also support Clinton.

    I’m keeping a close eye on the Senate and House. We often forget to review our reprenentatives are as-if not more-important to ensure their constituents better.

    I hope for a Biden/Clinton team in 2016.

  25. Dave Schuler says:

    Biden 2016? He doesn’t look a day over 2007.

  26. Herb says:

    @Stella Jonson: “I hope for a Biden/Clinton team in 2016.”

    Not me. Biden is merely tolerable. Clinton? Fuggetaboutit. No Bushes, no Clintons, no Pauls. If you’re the child or spouse of an ex-politician, I won’t vote for you. That’s my philosophy.

    And I won’t vote for this guy, either. What a crybaby.

  27. EMRVentures says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It’s been more than 30 years since the United States elected its first divorced president. Maybe we’re ready for one with a girlfriend. After all, if you can carry single households in the election you’re quite far along on the way to winning.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    For anyone who wants to scoff at the idea of Biden or Clinton being the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, just think about the GOP nominee being, say, Santorum or Palin…

  29. superdestroyer says:

    @Stella Jonson:

    Times change. A 70 y/o will probably never be president when inaugurated again.

    The Democrats prefer younger candidates (Bill Clinton and Obama) and will not nominate old people.

    Also, Biden is not an Ivy Leaguer and the Democrats have not nominated a non-Ivy leaguer since Mondale.

    I doubt if the Democrats will nominate a non-Yale/Harvard graduate in the foreseeable future.

  30. If he runs, I think it will be Newt-like, more than half for fun.

  31. al-Ameda says:

    After 8 years of Obama the public will be in the mood for someone nuts like Jim DeMint or Michele Bachmann.