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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