The Joe Biden speculation takes an interesting turn


Democrats won the 2018 midterm election for Congress with the largest midterms margin of all time, “an 8,805,130 vote lead over Republicans, gaining 53.1% of the more than 111 million votes cast nationwide compared to the GOP’s 45.2%, according to the data.”

The Democratic vote was powered by women, minority and youth voters. This was reflected in the most diverse Congress ever elected. Congress’s incoming class is younger, bluer, and more diverse than ever.

As I said earlier this year, in the 2020 presidential campaign The Democratic Party needs to turn to its next generation of young leaders.

But in the early Democratic primary polls (pro tip: indicative of nothing), the candidates leading the field are former Vice President Joe Biden, age 76, and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), even older at age 77 — the two oldest candidates ever to run for president. Two old white guys.

It’s like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets looking down on their younger challengers and heckling the 2018 election results. “Ha! Old white guys still rule!” If elected, Biden or Sanders would become the first octogenarian ever in the White House. Only the old Soviet Politburo and the Vatican have been led by white men that old.

Joe Biden, who has not yet officially declare his candidacy, is well aware of his age problem. Biden Weighing Unique Steps to Reassure Voters Concerned About His Age:

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., aware that concerns about his age could weigh on his candidacy if he runs for the White House, has discussed two steps that could reassure voters about electing a 78-year-old president next year.

Mr. Biden and his top advisers are considering nodding to the rising next generation in Democratic politics — and elevating an heir — by announcing a running mate early, well before the nomination is sealed. Also under discussion is a possible pledge to serve only one term and framing Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign as a one-time rescue mission for a beleaguered country, according to multiple party officials.

Axios reports a Scoop: Biden advisers debate Stacey Abrams as out-of-the-gate V.P. choice:

Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.

The popular Georgia Democrat, who at age 45 is 31 years younger than Biden, would bring diversity and excitement to the ticket — showing voters, in the words of a close source, that Biden “isn’t just another old white guy.”

But the decision poses considerable risk, and some advisers are flatly opposed. Some have pointed out that in a Democratic debate, he could be asked why no one on the stage would be a worthy running mate.

Advisers also know that the move would be perceived as a gimmick.

Biden has discussed selecting a running mate early, a move that one senior Democrat said could hurt him by feeding “an air of inevitability,” CNN reported.

Biden’s office declined to comment.

The big picture: The debate shows some lack of confidence among the Biden team about withstanding attacks for being out of step with the times, and for past positions that are now unpopular in the party.

Such moves would amount to a big play that would send a signal about the seriousness of the election, and could potentially appeal to both liberal activists and general-election voters who are eager to chart the safest route toward defeating President Trump. But Mr. Biden is not sold on either approach, and both carry significant risks, chiefly that they could call further attention to the age of a candidate who would turn 80 in the White House.

There is also the risk that Mr. Biden could appear presumptuous — even imperious — by choosing a running mate before the electorate has the chance to sift the field of candidates, presenting voters with a two-person package before anyone has voted for even the top spot on the ticket. More than a dozen people are running in the Democratic primary, including a record number of women and minorities, and announcing a running mate too soon could foreclose the possibility of uniting the party by inviting a popular runner-up to join the ticket later.

Still, the former vice president is clearly mindful of the need to have a ready answer for when voters and reporters ask him about his age if and when he enters the race, a decision that could come as soon as next month.

* * *

But [nothing] would carry the impact of naming a running mate early or vowing to serve just one term.

Two of Mr. Biden’s closest advisers, Steve Ricchetti and Mike Donilon, have floated both possibilities in recent weeks. And they have been egged on by some Democratic lawmakers, who have urged the Biden associates to strongly consider the one-term pledge to immediately defuse the question about his age.

* * *

But Mr. Biden is uneasy with the prospect of pledging up front not to seek re-election, believing that it would make him a lame-duck president before he even takes office and cripple his ability to get anything done, according to some of his aides.

He is more open to the idea of picking a vice president well before the customary time frame, which would be around the party’s nominating convention next year.

Some of his top advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, believe that naming a running mate before he is the nominee could not only mollify voters concerned about his age but also send a message about the sort of administration he would put in place. They have been interested in this strategy on and off for months, and CNN recently reported the conversations were stirring again.

With a younger but still accomplished vice-presidential nominee at his side, Mr. Biden could hope to demonstrate his commitment to diversity and to restoring stability to Washington.

Among the people Mr. Biden’s close allies have discussed for the role are Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia House minority leader who narrowly lost a race for governor last year, and Ms. Harris and Mr. O’Rourke, if their campaigns appear to flag in the coming months.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Abrams had lunch in Washington last week, and advisers to both declined to say if he had broached the subject of the vice presidency. Aides to Mr. Biden who spoke to him after the lunch said he told them he found Ms. Abrams “incredibly impressive.”

Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who has known Ms. Abrams since she was a college student because they were both Truman Scholars, said she “would bring a lot to the ticket,” but said he is torn because he would also like to have her as a colleague in the Senate.

Jaime Harrison, a senior Democratic National Committee official who is considering a campaign for Senate in South Carolina, said the idea of Mr. Biden partnering with an African-American running mate had been widely speculated about in his state as a way to “mobilize and energize the African-American base in the election.”

Mr. Biden is popular among South Carolina Democrats, a majority of whom are black, but his appeal as an older white man could be put to the test there in a race that features the most diverse set of candidates ever.

“It’s been the buzz for months,” Mr. Harrison said of the suggestion that Mr. Biden settle early on a black running mate. “Some people are saying it would be a way to give a nod to African-American women or the African-American community in general, because they’ve given so much to the party.”

Mr. Biden’s advisers stress that he is still finalizing his decision whether to run and is nowhere near determining whether to name a running mate early. And some of them grumble that neither Mr. Sanders, who is a year older than Mr. Biden, nor the 72-year-old current occupant of the Oval Office face the same amount of questions about his age.

Yes, and why is that exactly? If Joe Biden is cognizant of his age issue, why is not his senior, Bernie Sanders? Shouldn’t Bernie also be doing this Hamlet routine contemplating a running mate to succeed him as well?

Of course, Democrats could avoid all of this age drama by selecting a young diverse team to run for president and vice president. It’s not like they do not have enough qualified candidates running from which to choose.

And I stand by my view that Stacey Abrams should be running for the Senate in Georgia. Taking back the Senate is equally as important as the White House.

UPDATE: Charles Pierce at Esquire agrees with me. Why in the Name of God Would Stacy Abrams Run as Joe Biden’s Vice President?

More specifically, why in the name of God would Abrams do it? Right now, she’s no worse than the second-hottest ticket in Democratic politics, a favorite to win whatever office for which she chooses to run in Georgia. (If it’s the U.S. Senate, she becomes even more of a national figure overnight.) She’s going to give all that up to throw a life preserver to a guy whose time probably passed in 2008, if not long before. (Jonathan Chait disagrees.) She’s going to give all that up to make enemies out of the progressive base that already adores her?

Choosing to go with Biden now guarantees that she makes one friend and 18 enemies on every debate stage.

UPDATE: In an op-ed at the Washington Post, Karen Tumulty writes Don’t do it, Stacey Abrams(!)


  1. Unless the economy tanks or all the racists die in the next year, Biden loses to Trump in 2020.

    Biden has #metoo problems just like Trump, like it or not, his apology to Anita Hill came 20 years too late, and if there’s two elderly white guys on the ballot in 2020 younger voters will see that and think “nothing changes”, why bother?

    Trump won the primaries because GOP voters wanted something to change. He won the general because the Dems ran a better qualified but just as fake candidate against him.

    HRC couldn’t even give a simple “no” answer when asked if she’d ever lied to the American people, and she hid her Wall Street speeches just like Trump hid his taxes.

    She was fake, a corporate Dem, and voters knew it, and some people who voted for Obama voted for Trump because of that.

    If the Dems want to win, put Stacey Abrams at the top of the ticket and let the American people vote for someone who shares their values and ideas.

    Abrams is real, Trump is fake, Abrams is smart, Trump is not, people will see the difference.

    There are children at the border who will never see their parents again, dictators who do not fear the USA anymore, allies who don’t trust us to keep our word anymore, and Trump’s economic policies will eventually crash the economy, just like the GOP does every time they get into office.

    Or, go ahead and run a legacy corporate Dem and give Trump 4 more years.

  2. A note on Stacy Abrams: I mostly agree with the updated article in Esquire by Charles Pierce. I suspect that Abrams is participating in the speculation in the political press to make herself vastly more famous before her Senate run in GA in 2020. What better way to keep herself fresh and in fighting form and keep her name in the national press than make a few feints toward Presidential politics? Very smart of her.

  3. I should go on slightly longer why I think Biden is dead wrong for 2020. He was one of the architects of the modern American carceral state. He is directly culpable for the outrageous sentences resulting from drug use and trade. He is cluelessly and naturally an embodiment of White-cis-male privilege, even more so than O’Roarke. His 36 year voting record has oppo researchers in the GOP salivating. He’s a Presidential loser: he’s run nothing but inept and losing campaigns for the Presidency in his own name, thus far.

    I predict that if he does kick off a campaign (almost certain, right now), that within a month he polls in the second tier. The idea of a Biden as saviour is way better than the reality of Biden the candidate will be.

    On the other hand, he is wonderfully well-qualified and he is a Dad figure to most in the Dem coalition. And when monsters are in the (White) house, everyone deep down wants Daddy to go kill it. So, I worry we might just give in to our fears. Then again, a literal fist-fight breaking out between Trump and Biden at the debates would certainly be worth the admission price…

  4. Biden is a placeholder in polls for UNDECIDED. There’s nothing more to his current polling than that. He is too old, too in bed with Wall Street, too compromised by his vote for the Iraq war, too centrist, too gaffe-prone, and just not the guy who is going to motivate our base to the polls. In my view, Biden is the guy to select if you want a repeat of 2016. You couldn’t find a better proxy for Hil in the 2020 race. He might still beat Trump, but it would be a toss up when we have candidates that can make Trump a one termer.

    • Oh come on! Biden might not be the guy we should nominate but it’s not time to try to eliminate him.
      What happened to Hilary Clinton was at least partially a consequence of a twenty plus year disinformation campaign against her. The Republicans have not been doing that to Joe Biden.
      While having someone “…who is going to motivate our base to the polls..” will be important Trump’s behavior is going to motivate plenty of Dems and quite a few others.

      • That’s why I would give Biden an even chance of beating Trump. I want better than even odds…

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