Former vice president Joe Biden is expected to enter the 2020 presidential race soon — as Barack Obama’s third term.
The Associated Press reported Sunday: “Joe Biden is finalizing the framework for a White House campaign that would cast him as an extension of Barack Obama’s presidency and political movement. He’s betting that the majority of Democratic voters are eager to return to the style and substance of that era — and that they’ll view him as the best option to lead the way back.”
In that, Biden may face two challenges. One is that Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 partly by campaigning against Obama’s third term, as embodied by Hillary Clinton. The other is that the Obamas seems undecided as to whether Biden represents them; several Obama alumni are already supporting other candidates.
Biden was fading to the political margins in 2008, having crashed out of the Democratic presidential primary rather early, when Obama picked him to be his running mate. Biden, it was thought, brought years of experience that Obama lacked, plus foreign policy credentials. The Obama campaign also thought having a middle-aged white male on the ticket would appeal to the white working-class voters whom the strategists feared might not want to elect a black man.
In his eight years as vice president, Biden was faithful to Obama’s left-wing agenda — and has a controversial record:
Obamacare — the “big f*cking deal.” Biden’s infamous “hot mic” moment in 2010 captured his enthusiasm for Obama’s signature domestic policy — which raised health insurance premiums dramatically, canceled millions of individual insurance policies, and failed to cover everyone, as promised. Unlike then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who preferred a more incremental policy, Biden never offered any opposition of Obama’s radical, deceptive approach.
Iran deal — selling the policy. Biden not only supported the Obama administration’s faulty negotiations with the Tehran regime, but he also played a leading role in trying to convince Jewish groups to support the ill-fated deal. That effort was part of what Obama national security aide Ben Rhodes later called the “echo chamber” — a scheme to fool the country into accepting the deal, and for avoiding ratification in the Senate, as the Constitution requires.
Creating “distance” with Israel — “I condemn.” In March 2010, while Biden was visiting Jerusalem, a minor functionary in the Israeli government announced plans for housing in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. Obama seized the opportunity to create “distance” with Israel — and Biden was the eager messenger. “I condemn the decision by the government of Israel,” Biden said, undermining America’s most loyal ally in the Middle East.
Going easy on China — the Hunter Biden scandal. As Breitbart News’ Peter Schweizer has documented in his book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, flew to China on Air Force Two in 2013 and emerged ten days later with $1 billion in investment from the Chinese government into his private equity firm. Neither Biden has never explained how or why the deal happened.
Exploiting race — “Put y’all back in chains.” During the 2012 presidential campaign, Biden told an audience of predominantly black voters that the Republican candidate would “put y’all back in chains” if he won. That remark sought to create and exploit racial tensions that the administration had already fanned with its response to the Trayvon Martin controversy in Florida. It was also just one of many racially insensitive remarks in Biden’s career.
In addition, Biden also has a controversial record from his career in the Senate. He has been at pains recently to apologize for his conduct as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings — not for destroying Thomas’s character, but for resisting Anita Hill’s testimony. It was also Biden who invented “Borking,” the much-maligned, now routine practice of interrogating a nominee’s constitutional views, regardless of qualifications.
Against that record, Biden has two factors in his favor. One is his folksy manner — a somewhat contrived “working-class” persona that helps him connect to ordinary people. The other is that he could reunite the party factions that backed Obama. But given the fractured state of the so-called “Resistance,” that, too, seems in doubt.
Biden’s core constituency would be the party’s moderate wing — which needs and wants him to run, but is very much in retreat.
The former vice president has already run into trouble as he has struggled to dismiss allegations that he often touched women and girls inappropriately in public settings. Critics also say that he is too “moderate” for the Democratic Party today, which has moved to the left under the influence of the “Resistance” to President Donald Trump, and embraced an ideological agenda even more radical than the one Obama attempted to enact.
To that, Biden recently answered that he believes the party’s base is not as radical as some of its more outspoken leaders: “For my whole career … I was never labeled as a moderate. … [T]he definition of ‘progressive’ now seems to be changing. That is, ‘Are you a socialist?’ … The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of members of the Democratic Party are still basically liberal to moderate Democrats in the traditional sense.”
He concluded: “I’m an Obama-Biden Democrat, man. And I’m proud of it.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.