Former vice president Joe Biden ended months of will he/won’t he speculation on Thursday, April 25th, when he finally confirmed that he’s running for the White House in next year’s presidential election. Many will be relieved that someone with actual experience in government is chasing the Democratic nomination — but others say he’s too old, too irrelevant or too moderate to get anywhere in today’s more radical Democratic Party. Now, at least, we get a chance to find out if they’re right.
Joe Biden launched his third bid for his party’s presidential election nomination on April 25th with a dramatic video released on Twitter. It’s clear that Biden is trying to position himself as the candidate for ordinary Americans — but his rhetoric, including a claim that a Biden/Trump race would be a “battle for the soul of this nation,” will alienate many of those he’s trying to reach. Nevertheless, he can’t be much less radical without alienating most of his own party — because the truth is, moderate Democrats like Biden are watching the political ground disappear beneath their feet.
- Biden has already tried to win the Democratic nomination twice: in 1988 and 2008. Both times he was beaten by popular, mainstream Democrats — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. This time, his experience as VP gives him some political weight he didn’t have in his earlier attempts — but the party has shifted away from him in the meantime.
- Now, the Democrats are shifting rapidly to the left; antique socialist Bernie Sanders has a real chance of grabbing the nomination this time, and the party’s hierarchy is filling up with young radicals like AOC (D-NY) and outright fanatics like Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Even a decade ago, a relatively centrist candidate like Biden could attract enough support from both swing voters and hardcore Democrats to have a chance at the White House. Now he’s too right-wing for many Dems, and the party is too left-wing for many swing voters to support.
- Age could also be a factor for Biden. He’s 76 — if he was to win next November, he’d be the oldest person ever elected president. Right now that honor is held by President Trump, who was inaugurated at the age of 70 — a fact many on the Left held against him. If Biden wins, he’ll be 78.
- While some will worry about electing a president who’ll turn 80 halfway through his first term, Biden will also have to grapple with the dislike of “old white men” that’s spreading through the Democratic Party. That could be even more of a problem when combined with the allegations of inappropriate touching several women have made against him.
- President Trump doesn’t seem too fazed by the thought of a Biden campaign. In a tweet, he told the challenger, “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty — you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!”