I Don't Think So, Joe
Perhaps the most conventional of conventional wisdom in this election cycle has been the idea that at least some serious Republican contenders have forgone entering the current presidential race, in order to wait for a clear shot at a vacant presidency in 2016. This scenario of course implies that should President Obama win reelection, Vice President Biden would pass on his own turn as the Democratic nominee, instead choosing to retire from politics.
While it is true that the vice presidency sometimes serves as a holding place for a party’s presidential heir apparent (often the runner-up to the nominee), it has also recently offered a president the opportunity to bring in a seasoned politician as a close advisor, even if that vice president did not have the political juice to make a run for the nomination on his own. Biden clearly fulfills this second role for President Obama. I think it is fair to say that left on his own as a candidate in 2008, Biden had no chance of catching either Obama or Hillary Clinton. This is why (in addition to the issue of Biden’s age) observers (including myself) have typically written him off as a presidential nominee in 2016.
Well, apparently Biden doesn’t see things quite this way, as he recently managed to surprise a group of Democratic donors in Cincinnati with the personal request that, assuming Obama’s return to the White House in 2012, he not be dismissed as a potential nominee in 2016. I don’t know how seriously to take this comment, but if Biden were to express real interest in the nomination, it would certainly delay the Democratic Party’s ability to cultivate the new crop of potential nominees it needs at the national level. I also don’t know how competitive Biden (at age 70) would be against what could be a young and energetic group of Republican presidential hopefuls (think Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, etc.).
My hunch is that Biden would retire, and I think there would be significant pressure from within the party hierarchy for him to do so. But Biden no doubt still has sufficient political pride to want to be shown at least a little deference in the tradition of presidential succession.
Posted On: 05-26-2011 08:23:56 by Jim Splaine
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