Joe Biden declares for President
Joe Biden declares 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?

Adjacent posts