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.
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.
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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.
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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(!)