The super PAC Draft Biden 2016 released an ad last week calling for Vice President Joe Biden to run for the Democratic nomination. The ad, while touching and beautiful, exemplifies Biden’s key weaknesses as a potential presidential candidate. The ad uses emotion to argue for his bid for the nomination but does not present any concrete reasons for such a bid. Unfortunately for Biden 2016 supporters, there are not many.
Given the plethora of candidates, those seeking the office of the presidency in 2016 must ask themselves two questions: “Is there space for me to run?” and “Is there a compelling reason for me to run?” The similarities between front-runner Hillary Clinton and Biden rob him of an opening in the race for the nomination. The Clinton campaign certainly has critical defects that leave space for a challenger, but Biden would not occupy this space. Biden’s record is similar if not somewhat more conservative to Clinton’s. This do not preclude Biden from running — if he can mount a better campaign the Clinton, he should certainly run against her. As a candidate, however, his performance is nowhere near that of Clinton’s. Both Biden and Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but while Clinton was close, Biden dropped out after getting less than one percent in Iowa. There is little evidence to suggest that Biden would do better this time around. Clinton far outpaces Biden in terms of endorsements, which some political scientists believe to be the most effective indicator of a candidate’s viability this early. The only reason anyone is calling for him to run is that he is an established candidate without Clinton’s baggage. However, Clinton has had to fight back against scrutiny and criticism because she is at the forefront of public consciousness. With a bid for the nomination, Biden would attract the same scrutiny and criticism.
If you want to see how disastrous it is for candidates to run without a compelling reason, you only need look to the GOP. The current Republican primary race is a perfect example of how a babble of voices prevents productive discussion from taking place, as every candidate tries desperately to gain attention and distinguish themselves. Many of the Republican candidates are as similar to one other as Biden and Clinton. Consequently, they have nothing but caustic personal attacks and theatrics to differentiate themselves. This comically low level of discourse should be a cautionary tale for the Democrats, whose nomination campaign has shown markedly more civility and productivity. Biden joining a race would make it closer in nature to the chaotic Republican one.
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Email Shiva Darshan at [email protected].