NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Joe Biden is (finally) running for President

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden has – at long last – decid­ed to run for Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca for the third time. On Thurs­day morn­ing, Biden released a video on Twit­ter announc­ing his can­di­da­cy.

Joe Biden speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Vice Pres­i­dent Biden gave a rous­ing speech at the 2016 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion (Source: A.Shaker/VOA, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons)

The video heav­i­ly focused on how tra­di­tion­al Amer­i­can val­ues are being cor­rupt­ed by the cur­rent Pres­i­dent, focus­ing heav­i­ly on 2017’s white suprema­cist ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, and Trump’s lat­er state­ment that there were “very fine peo­ple” on both sides of the vio­lence that the ral­ly led to.

Biden stat­ed that he “can­not stand by and let that hap­pen”, argu­ing that, “Amer­i­ca gives hate no safe har­bour.” The Vice President’s cam­paign web­site leans heav­i­ly into the idea of restor­ing Amer­i­ca in terms of the mid­dle-class, the USA’s posi­tion in the world, and an inclu­sive polit­i­cal sys­tem.

The Pres­i­dent react­ed to Biden’s announce­ment with a tweet.

“Wel­come to the race Sleepy Joe,” Trump tweet­ed, “I only hope you have the intel­li­gence, long in doubt, to wage a suc­cess­ful pri­ma­ry cam­paign.” The Pres­i­dent habit­u­al­ly describes those he dis­likes as unin­tel­li­gent, a text­book exam­ple of pro­jec­tion from one of the least intel­li­gent men to ever enter the White House.

Joe Biden stud­ies the audi­ence at Net­roots Nation dur­ing his Thurs­day after­noon keynote. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Biden’s entry imme­di­ate­ly cat­a­pult­ed him to the posi­tion of fron­trun­ner – he has con­sis­tent­ly ranked first place in polls of like­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry vot­ers (despite the fact that he hadn’t declared his can­di­da­cy) for months.

Biden is a beloved fig­ure among Demo­c­ra­t­ic elect­ed offi­cials, and as a for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent he has a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly excel­lent chance of gain­ing the nom­i­na­tion; of the nine times a Vice Pres­i­dent has run for pres­i­dent since World War II, they have won their party’s nom­i­na­tion six times (Nixon did it twice).

How­ev­er, Biden doesn’t have the over­whelm­ing advan­tage that Hillary Clin­ton had in 2016. With such fierce and diverse com­pe­ti­tion for the nom­i­na­tion – espe­cial­ly with Bernie Sanders nip­ping at Biden’s heels, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the ear­ly pri­ma­ry states – Biden could eas­i­ly lose momen­tum and be over­tak­en by one of the almost twen­ty oth­er Democ­rats cur­rent­ly run­ning.

“Uncle Joe” might be beloved by his par­ty, but many in the grass­roots are uncom­fort­able with him as a fig­ure­head. Biden has a long his­to­ry in pol­i­tics, and not all of it is rose-tint­ed. In an increas­ing­ly young, female, diverse and pro­gres­sive par­ty, crit­ics of Biden will find fault with his age, eth­nic­i­ty, behav­iour towards women (such as Ani­ta Hill and Lucy Flo­res), and past posi­tions on race issues (par­tic­u­lar­ly his sup­port for the 1990s Clin­ton Crime Bill).

Biden’s cam­paign ran into dif­fi­cul­ties before it even offi­cial­ly exist­ed. In March, Biden allies spread the idea that the Vice Pres­i­dent might launch his cam­paign with Stacey Abrams (who ran for Gov­er­nor of Geor­gia in 2018 and is appear­ing in Seat­tle tonight at Tem­ple De Hirsch Sinai) as his vice pres­i­den­tial pick.

How­ev­er, Abrams reject­ed that idea, say­ing that, “you don’t run for sec­ond place” and leav­ing Biden’s camp deal­ing with accu­sa­tions of tokenism.

Biden also has a record of flop­ping uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly out of pres­i­den­tial races.

As men­tioned, he has made a run at the White House twice before – in 1988 and 2008, when he was a sen­a­tor – and both times he did­n’t get very far.

The 1988 run was a par­tic­u­lar embar­rass­ment for Biden, as he was caught pla­gia­ris­ing speech­es made by British politi­cian Neil Kin­nock. I

n 2008 he was thor­ough­ly out­shone by younger, more charis­mat­ic fig­ures such as Hillary Clin­ton and Barack Oba­ma and his cam­paign fiz­zled out.

Joe Biden with Barack Obama

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and Vice Pres­i­dent Biden are famous­ly close friends (Source: Daniel Schwen, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons)

How­ev­er, the two pre­vi­ous cam­paigns were pro­mot­ing Joe Biden, the Sen­a­tor from the tiny state of Delaware, whose clum­sy pol­i­tick­ing could eas­i­ly ignored. This time round, com­peti­tors will have to face Joe Biden, America’s favorite uncle, who served along­side Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma for eight years.

Maybe the third time will be the charm for Joe Biden?

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