No, it’s not quite the satiric Twitter meme (a leftover from the 2016 race, in which commentators attempted to parse potential candidates’ vague-yet-grand statements that really weren’t that vague at all): Joe Biden really appears to be planning a 2020 run, according to Joe Biden.
In the last few days, the former vice president has twice indicated that he will join the race, via a slip and a leak. Or perhaps two leaked “slips.” Or maybe three. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Biden had reached out to several major supporters that day, telling them he planned to run for president. He asked for help in securing contributions from big donors so he could quickly raise several million dollars.
Over the weekend, Biden teased a run with an apparent slip of the tongue during a Democratic fundraiser in his home state of Delaware. “It can’t go on like this, folks. I know I get criticized and told I get criticized by the new left,” he told the crowd. “I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United States — anybody who would run.”
In the polls, Biden, 76, has consistently ranked first among potential Democratic presidential candidates. He has officially sat on the sidelines as the field coalesced around him. But last week, things came at him fast. “Biden has expressed concern to these people that he wouldn’t be able to raise millions of dollars in online donations immediately the way some other Democratic candidates have,” the Journal said about that call with potential backers.
Last Thursday, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke officially announced he would run. Twenty-four hours later, O’Rourke had raised $6.1 million, a record, beating Sen. Bernie Sanders’ $5.9 million first-day haul last month.
On the call, Biden told supporters he had to show results early and would be judged by the initial rush of donations, the Journal reported. Biden indicated he might set up an exploratory committee sometime after Easter weekend.
In addition to two terms as President Barack Obama’s VP from 2008 to 2016, Biden was a senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 1988 and 2008. Supporters say the former vice president has experience and a common touch that could peel voters away from President Trump; detractors contend his establishment reputation will fail to excite a progressive base that’s seeking change, particularly minorities and women.
On Monday, CNN reported that Biden might choose a running mate early. Stirring speculation, he met last week with former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who delivered January’s State of the Union response. But the two reportedly did not discuss the VP slot.
In the current Democratic presidential fray — which now numbers more than a dozen — Biden leads the RealClearPolitics average of polls with 29 percent, followed by Sanders at 22 percent. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is third with 11 percent, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and O’Rourke take the next two spots with about 7 percent each.