Joe Biden really truly might run for president. That’s what the US vice president told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday, anyway. During a “Good Morning America” interview, Mr. Stephanopoulos pointed out that Hillary Rodham Clinton is already hiring staff and raising money for a presidential bid. Then he asked Biden if he, too, was thinking of trying to succeed Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
“Yes, there’s a chance. But I haven’t made my mind up about that. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then, there’s plenty of time,” Vice President Biden replied.
This is pretty much the way Biden has answered the president question for quite some time. But he said it forcefully, with a little laugh. Plus he opined that he thought he’d be pretty good at giving a State of the Union speech himself. All this, plus the post-SOTU timing, combined to give pundits that little thrill they need to declare Biden’s words newsworthy.
“Most explicit I’ve seen Biden in months saying he might challenge Hillary,” tweeted ABC political director Rick Klein.
Is Biden serious about this? There’s no reason he wouldn’t be – after all, he’s run for president twice in the past (2008 and 1988). When you’re vice president you get to hang around the White House a lot, use Air Force Two and so on. You get your own house, on the upper northwest grounds of the Naval Observatory. It would be hard to just give all that up without a final try at the brass ring of US politics.
Hillary might decide to drop out. Who’d be front-runner then? Probably Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, but hey, Biden would then have a real shot. Maybe.
Because here’s the obvious kicker: Biden does not have much of a chance of winning. The American electorate in all its wisdom rejected Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in his previous national races. And if Clinton runs, she is the overwhelming favorite to win. Biden would be a likely also-ran, despite his protestations.
“I think this is wide open on both sides,” Biden told ABC.
Nope. It isn’t. Unless a 50-point Clinton lead is “wide open.” The latest RealClearPolitics average of major surveys puts the former secretary of State 50 points up on Senator Warren and 52 points up on Biden. Yes, it’s early, but that’s a huge margin. And it isn’t as if Biden is a nationally obscure governor or senator who needs to build name recognition.
Maybe Biden will run just to give Clinton some company. After all it will be hard for Clinton to debate herself. Biden becomes a friendly competitor, in this scenario, who trades compliments with Clinton on the stump.
Then – and maybe this is Biden’s real plan – he bows out gracefully, and Clinton picks him as her running mate! Hey, it worked for Joe in 2008, right? There’s no constitutional term limit on vice presidents. He’s experienced and ready. Who else can make better reaction faces than Joe Biden behind a president delivering a State of the Union?
Nobody. That’s who.