Biden sees one Democrat who can beat Trump in 2020: Joe Biden
Joe Biden thinks it’s critical that Donald Trump not get a second term — and though it’s early, he doesn’t yet see anyone else who could stop that from happening.
So, he’s been telling people privately, that might mean he’ll just have to run himself.
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After beginning the year both teasing a 2020 bid and ruling one out — sometimes on the same day — Biden in recent months has shifted unmistakably in favor of running, say multiple people who’ve been in touch with the former vice president and his team.
For the first time in what would be the sixth presidential campaign that he’s either seriously flirted with or launched, Biden sees an argument for a candidacy for which he is the only answer: An elder statesman who can help repair the damage and divisions in the country and around the world, unite the competing wings of the Democratic Party, and appeal to traditional Democratic voters who fled last year for Trump.
“He’s a great respecter of fate,” said one person close to the former vice president. “At some point, it may turn into fate and planning.”
Many Democrats are wary about pegging the future of the party with Biden, who will be 77 by 2020, the oldest potential candidate in the field other than Bernie Sanders. Though a clutch player in both Obama campaigns, he has proved to be bad at running for president himself, and would likely be facing a raucous and crowded primary full of candidates determined not to step aside and repeat the Hillary Clinton coronation.
Next week, Biden will launch a tour for his new book, “Promise Me, Dad,” a memoir of his relationship with his son Beau, whose death in May 2015 triggered both the last-minute exploration by Biden of a 2016 run and the emotional devastation that ultimately caused him to pull the plug.
People familiar with the planning describe the tour as deliberately structured to avoid politics. Biden’s staff is pushing off nearly every request to appear at fundraisers or other political events while he’s traveling for it.
But there’s another, more subtle purpose, some acknowledge: to test Biden’s emotional stamina, should he decide to throw himself fully into a presidential run.
“Right now, he’s pretty laser-focused on the book tour. Get through that and go see what we can do in ‘18, and see where things are then,” said a person in touch with Biden’s advisers, who have stayed in close communication since leaving their government jobs in January.
On top of an already busy travel schedule, his book events will kick off with an Oprah Winfrey interview and keep him on the road through mid-December. He has stops scheduled in New York, Washington and Boston, but also Tennessee, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas and Michigan.
With former President Barack Obama largely sitting out politics and many Democrats wary of reaching out to the Clintons, Biden’s appeal as a party leader has grown since January. He has received at least five requests for endorsements or events each week, sources close to him say.
Biden is planning to spend the first quarter of 2018 focused on fundraising for old friends in the Senate, with possible additional appearances for state parties or directly backing House candidates. Twelve of the 14 candidates he backed in Tuesday’s election won, including a Washington state Senate race that flipped the chamber to Democrats and the Manchester, New Hampshire, mayor’s race. He also supported, Danica Roem, the transgender candidate who won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Roem first met Biden after traveling to Wilmington, Delaware, for the Beau Biden wake.
Another person close to Biden stressed that his focus now is on helping elect other Democrats.
“The VP is out working furiously to support and promote Democrats at all levels because he believes the future of the party is bright,” the person said.
In op-eds and speeches, Biden has gone after Trump without mentioning him by name. He uses words like “incoherence” and “inconsistent,” and notes that many foreign leaders have reached out to him, confused by Trump’s actions.
He’s also keeping tabs on how other people are hitting the president, reaching out to members of Congress whom he sees on TV to cheer them on.