Biden Will Reportedly Skip October 13th Democratic Debate, Still Not Entering Race

Vice-President Biden will apparently not be at the first Democratic debate, which may be yet another sign that he's not running for President.

Joe Biden Speaking

Joe Biden is still mum on whether or not he’ll enter the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but we may be getting a big hint of those intention in the report today that he will most likely be skipping the upcoming Democratic debate:

Vice President Joe Biden has extended his window for deciding whether to jump into the 2016 presidential campaign, several Democrats say, allowing the contest to play out even longer before he answers one of the biggest questions hanging over the race for the White House.

He is not preparing for the first Democratic debate on October 13 in Las Vegas and is not expected to participate, people close to him say, because he feels no pressure to reach a decision by then. He is likely to reveal his plans in the second half of October.

For more than two months, Biden has been studying the mechanics of what it would take to launch a candidacy. He and his team have been inundated by mounds of research and battle plans, but his original end-of-summer deadline passed without him reaching a conclusion.

Campaign managers in key early-voting states have already been identified. Dozens of major donors have stepped forward. Domestic and foreign policy advisers are waiting in the wings.

The speculation about Biden’s future has reached a fever pitch, fueled by Democrats searching for an alternative to Hillary Clinton or a backup plan in case her candidacy falters. But with every passing week, many Democrats close to Biden are hardening in their beliefs that he will ultimately decide against challenging Clinton and the rest of the party’s field.

He has stopped short of asking his advisers to actually pull the trigger on any of their plans-in-waiting, including setting up the legal structure of a campaign organization and taking steps to qualify for ballots in Michigan, Texas and other states with early deadlines.

“Nothing is actually being done yet,” said a senior Democrat who has spoken with Biden, speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity to avoid openly violating the trust of the vice president. “There’s far more talk than action.”

Biden has said he would only run if he was certain he had a path to victory, several Democrats who have spoken to him say, a hurdle that he increasingly believes is within reach. But he is still unsure whether he and his family are ready for the campaign’s emotional toll, these Democrats say, which he has said is the chief benchmark for running.

Yet in conversations with nearly two-dozen Democrats close to Biden, the same caveat emerges: He simply hasn’t made up his mind. His closest circle of advisers is small enough to fit around his kitchen table and Biden is keeping limited counsel on this decision, which is why several people close to him urge caution against prejudging his final decision.

Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, who has known Biden for decades and served alongside him in the Senate, said he believes the vice president is growing closer to a verdict. But he said the timeline isn’t as imminent as it once seemed.

“If you would have asked me several months ago, I would have said he should decide by the beginning of October,” Carper told CNN. “But as time goes by, his numbers continue to improve and more and more people want him to run. I don’t think he has to do something this week. This month? Yeah.”

Organizers for the October 13th debate, which is taking place in California, have said up until now that they would keep a spot open for Biden should he decide to get into the race, but Biden has given no indication of being interested in appearing for what is likely to be a high profile debate. As we’ve gone through the summer and now the month of September, though, Biden has sent at best can be called mixed signals regarding his Presidential intentions. The news has been filled with reports about Biden reconsidering he previous decision to stay out of the race, complete with reports of the request of his late son Beau Biden that he enter the race, and polling has shown him performing very well in match-ups against both Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders despite not having entered the race, though. At the same time, though, Biden has sent many signals that seem to indicate that he is leaning against getting into the race, including a speech in Florida and an appearance on Late Night with Stephan Colbert in which he emphasized the emotional toll losing his son has had on him and his family and how hard that would make running for high office again. Additionally, polling has shown that Democrats aren’t very eager for Biden to run for President, and Americans aren’t sold on the idea of a Biden Presidency either. Add into this all the realities about Biden as a candidate and how he would actually fit into this race, and the logical thing still seems to be for Biden to stay out of the race. The reported decision to skip the October 13th debate would just seem to be another piece of evidence to add to the argument that Biden is in fact not running.

Some analysts have suggested that Biden doesn’t need to worry about getting into the first debate even if he ultimately does decide to run at some point. Given the fact that he has near universal name recognition and that he seems to be rising in the polls as long as he stays out of the race, there is perhaps some merit to this argument. Other analysts have speculated that Biden may be waiting until Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the House Select Committee investigating the Benghazi the attack. Much of that hearing is likely to be taken up by questions regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server, and it’s obvious that Republicans will be looking for ways to damage Clinton politically. If she performs badly in that hearing, the theory goes, Biden may jump in the race as an “emergency” candidate for Democrats who realize that Bernie Sanders cannot possibly be a credible General Election candidate. While that may be what’s going through, Biden’s mind, he doesn’t have much time left. By November 20th, he would have to file the paperwork to get on the ballot in New Hampshire, and the ballot access deadlines for several other early states will start coming due around that time as well. Unless he has a campaign organization ready to hit the ground running very quickly, the Vice-President is going to have a very tough time putting together a credible campaign.

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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. Argon says:

    Biden and Warren: Still not running.

    Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead!
    [A large man appears with a (seemingly) dead man over his shoulder]
    Large Man: Here’s one.
    Dead Collector: Nine pence.
    “Dead” Man: I’m not dead.
    Dead Collector: What?
    Large Man: Nothing. [hands the collector his money] There’s your nine pence.
    “Dead” Man: I’m not dead!
    Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.
    Large Man: Yes he is.
    “Dead” Man: I’m not.
    Dead Collector: He isn’t.
    Large Man: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
    “Dead” Man: I’m getting better.
    Large Man: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.
    Dead Collector: Well, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.
    “Dead” Man: I don’t want to go on the cart.
    Large Man:’ Oh, don’t be such a baby.
    Dead Collector: I can’t take him.
    “Dead” Man: I feel fine.


  2. Moosebreath says:

    Yep. The Biden candidacy is just a shiny thing the Beltway Media is focused on to prevent them from actually noting that Hillary has a challenger who is within striking distance of her.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    Totally OT, but Doug, I thought you might like to know about this “Yelp for People.”

    I imagine tort lawyers are just salivating at the opportunities.

    (I have no sympathy for the founders. If they can’t understand why legally this will be the equivalent of driving a Porsche at 150 mph into a stone wall, it’s not my duty to tell them.)

    And this is supposedly already valued at $7.6 million? A fool and his money are soon parted.

  4. DrDaveT says:

    @Argon: I was thinking more of the (very) old Saturday Night Live running gag on their “Weekend Update” segment:

    “In breaking news from Spain, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead — but in stable condition.”

  5. grumpy realist says:

    Oh, and about Biden? This is starting to look like what we in New York called “Hamlet on the Hudson”–Cuomo’s incessant dithering about running for POTUS.

    Geez Louise, go ahead and make a decision already. If you want to be back-up for Hillary, then get cracking on the prep work.

  6. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Unless he has a campaign organization ready to hit the ground running very quickly,

    From what I read above–

    Campaign managers in key early-voting states have already been identified. Dozens of major donors have stepped forward. Domestic and foreign policy advisers are waiting in the wings.

    –it appears that he does.

  7. Stonetools says:

    I guess there are a bunch of people out there who are really scared that HRC will blow it and who don’t like the idea that Sanders will be the nominee, so they are hyperventilating and bending Bidens ear.
    My view: Biden isnt getting in unless HRC suffers a stroke or some other calamity happens.
    Meanwhile I can’t wait for October 22 when Hillary stuffs McCarthy’s quote up Gowdy’s a$$. A strong performance from Clinton there plus a strong debate performance in November and the ghostly Biden campaign goes away.

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    Biden won’t enter the race until winter if it becomes apparent Clinton is walking wounded. The Democratic elites want a conservative Democrat in the While House; Joe is their contingency plan.