If there’s an ounce of truth to rumors that Vice President Joe Biden is quietly meeting with folks who seem determined to draft him for another presidential run, then we will have to wait to see if it can be marinated into a pound of commitment.
Thus far, the vice president has, unusually, sealed his lips on such a possibility, despite the deathbed wish of his son, Beau, who died earlier this year after a valiant fight against brain cancer.
Besieged by the press this week, Biden was noncommittal, telling reporters that he will have an answer for them in September.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is stepping up her campaign, a normal procedure in preparation for the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, though she and her team may be haunted by the specter of Biden’s bid.
All of the major polls—NBC/Wall Street, Fox News, Quinnipiac, CNN/ORC and PPP (D)—show Clinton decisively ahead of Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. For example, at the end of July, Clinton maintained a 30 percent margin over Sanders of Vermont in all the polls. The margin was even wider over Biden.
But polls are but a relative barometer, a momentary snapshot of a race that still has many months before the first primary. And Biden will be wise to keep in mind what happened to him in 2008 in Iowa when he got only 1 percent of the vote and dropped out of the race.
President Obama told the press, after choosing Biden to be his vice president, that it was the best political decision he had ever made. Even so, he chose Clinton to be his secretary of state. He has already expressed a neutral position on the candidates.
If Biden is to run, it would seem very risky for him to tarry too long. Money has to be raised, campaign offices opened, field operators placed on the ground and catching up to be done.
To date, the Clinton team has shown no signs of being worried about Biden’s entry in the race. In fact, Biden in the race will sharpen both his, Sanders’ and Clinton’s platforms during the debates, and prepare them for the showdown against whomever emerges from the Republican free for all.
But the question remains about his bid, which many pundits insist cannot and should not be made as a fulfillment of his son’s request. Running on sympathy in the presidential tug of war is akin to running on empty. He will have to display some of the toughness and moxie that characterized his days in Congress, and gather those reflective moments of fight and determination he amassed during the train rides from the nation’s capital to Delaware.
He will need all of this strength and more to match Clinton, who at this stage of the race seems as unbeatable as American Pharaoh.