Is Joe Biden plotting a 2020 bid for president? Don’t entirely rule it out.
The former vice president launched a political action committee this week — the surest sign yet he intends to keep his toe dipped in the White House waters over the next few years.
On the new American Possibilities PAC website, Biden writes that “the negativity, the pettiness, the small-mindedness of our politics drives me crazy. We’re better than this.”
“It’s time to treat each other with dignity and respect. Not as opponents, but as fellow Americans. Because that’s what we are,” he continues. “This is a time for big dreams and American possibilities. If that’s what you believe — and you’re ready to help elect folks who believe that, and to support groups and causes that embody that spirit — then I’m asking you to join me today.”
The PAC will allow Biden to fundraise and help candidates ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, which would allow him to keep up donor relationships as well as engender goodwill with future potential political allies, if he does decide to run.
“Joe is not going away, and you know that, all of you,” Biden’s wife, Jill, said on CBS’s This Morning on Thursday. “I mean, he loves politics, he loves what he’s doing and he said he would stay involved.”
Ever since passing on jumping into the 2016 Democratic fray, there seems to have been a growing sense of “what if” from the former Delaware senator, who previously ran twice for president during his three decades in the Senate before joining then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s ticket in 2008.
“I regret it every day, but it was the right decision for my family and for me, and I plan on staying deeply involved,” Biden said in January.
The vice president wrestled with whether or not to join the Democratic race, which already included eventual nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. And after his eldest son, Beau, passed away from brain cancer in May 2015, balancing his political ambitions with his grief and family obligations became a very public struggle.
“I don’t think any man or woman should run for president unless, No. 1, they know exactly why they would want to be president and, No. 2, they can look at folks out there and say, ‘I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion to do this,'” Biden told CBS’s Stephen Colbert in September 2015. “I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there.”
And, ultimately he wasn’t. Just over a month later, Biden announced in the White House Rose Garden, flanked by his wife Jill and President Obama, that he would not enter the race.
“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along what I’ve said time and again to others, that it may very well be that the process, by the time we get through it, closes the window,” he said. “I’ve concluded it has closed.”
But could that window re-open over the next three years? A bid by Biden would certainly be unprecedented in many aspects. He’d be 77 years old on Election Day in 2020. President Trump eclipsed former President Ronald Reagan as the oldest person ever elected to the presidency after he was inaugurated at age 70.
The Democratic Party has no heir apparent to take on Trump in about three and a half years. And the Scranton, Pa., native, who relishes talking of his hard-scrabble upbringing, could certainly fill in some of the cracks Clinton was unable to, particularly with working class whites in the Rust Belt.
But the party may also be eager for some fresh blood atop the ticket just four years after Clinton, who many saw as a retread candidate too tied to her husband’s presidency in the 1990s. And a 77-year old Biden, with plenty of attributes Clinton was missing, still may not be their best fit.
But it’s important to watch how Biden uses his PAC in the coming months. Does he pay special attention to candidates in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, or travel there to campaign? Does he place an emphasis on battleground states? How forcefully and publicly does he go after Trump?
Biden has been far from Shermanesque in his denials that he’s seriously considering a White House bid, and his statements — often with a wink and a smile — keep stoking that very idea.
“I’m going to run in 2020,” Biden told a group of reporters on Capitol Hill last December. After one reporter pressed him, “For what?” he responded with a smile, “For president…What the hell, man.”
“I’m not committing not to run,” Biden clarified soon after. “I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.”
Earlier this month when asked about running in 2020, this was his response: “Could I? Yes. Would I? Probably not.”
“I may very well do it,” he later added, saying that if his health is good and if his family is in a strong financial position, he would consider it.
In that same speech at the SALT hedge fund conference in Las Vegas, Biden also offered some pointed words in comparing himself and Clinton: “I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate.” He did, however, later add that “Hillary would have been a really good president.”