By Dave Andrusko
It’s funny, my wife and I were just talking about this last night–what impact Hillary Clinton’s much-lauded performance at Tuesday’s Democratic debate would have on Vice President Joe Biden’s decision whether to jump in at what is virtually the last minute.
To jump ahead, there is a rush of stories today that Biden is already talking to people not about whether to run but, as CNN put it, “how to launch a presidential bid.”
My point was simple. The man has been in electoral politics for a gazillion years. Did anyone over the age of six not know that Biden would already have factored in what Clinton would do against four timid and often tongue-tied men, afraid to cross the woman anointed by at least some party higher ups to be the Democratic 2016 presidential nominee?
Think about it for a minute. All the real obstacles Biden would face if he went for the gold one last time would not change either way. He still would have to put together an organization, raise money, lock up endorsements, etc., etc., etc.
You think that Clinton’s performance–to repeat against a wholly underwhelming cast–would intimidate a man whose ego is, shall we say, secure? Who likely would get–directly or obliquely–the support of President Obama? Who would be running against a woman who is one of the most polarizing figures in American politics, whose approval numbers are headed toward the bottom of the ocean? Who is as good at retail politics as Clinton is bad? Who saw, for all the plaudits Clinton received, that some of Clinton’s answers were catnip to people who make political ads? And who must have laughed aloud when the stories ran that, given last Tuesday, there was no “rationale” for his candidacy?
Just a couple of words from and about the CNN story, written by Jeff Zeleny. Here’s the lead (although the story is filled with the usual cautionary qualifiers):
Vice President Joe Biden has personally made a series of calls this week to Democratic strategists from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, asking a final round of detailed questions about how — not whether — to launch a 2016 presidential campaign.
People familiar with the conversations tell CNN that Biden has been making the calls throughout the week, including on Wednesday, just as many leading Democrats argued the window to a potential candidacy was closing in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s strong performance in the party’s first presidential debate. He is asking these people to work for him if he runs.
For months, we’ve heard what the last, last, last possible date is for a Biden decision to run. It seems as if a real deadline has been reached: seemingly no later than the end of the month.