Will he or won’t he? After sitting out the 2016 presidential race in the wake of the sadly premature death of his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, former Vice President Joe Biden is gearing up to decide whether to throw his hat in the ring for the 2020 contest.
According to Politico, his top aides are working hard on prepping the field for him, running through different scenarios that could put him on a winning trajectory if he chooses to enter the race.
One scenario has Biden, who at 75-years-old is four years older than Trump, but a year younger than Senator Bernie Sanders, announcing his candidacy early so that the challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination will have to shape their campaigns around his.
Another scenario would be the opposite approach, a late entry into the field that would allow him to skip the hard-fought early local races in Iowa and New Hampshire and start the race with a primary in a state that has always been a bastion of support for him, like South Carolina.
That his team is thinking outside the box is apparent by the stories that have been floated recently. For example, one such story claimed that Biden would campaign on the pledge of only running for a single term as a “reset president” who could restore the prestige of the office both domestically and internationally after Trump has debased and brought down the “property values” of the office.
A promise of a single term could temper concerns about his age, but Biden is reportedly against the idea of starting his term as a lame duck if he wins. (If Mitch McConnell is still around that may be a wise instinct, or else Biden would never get to nominate anyone to the Supreme Court.)
Other unconventional ideas being tossed around are picking a running mate before the convention and having his vice-presidential pick be someone younger than himself and/or someone from outside the typical political arena.
According to The Hill:
“The former vice president is ‘thinking through a million unconventional options, because there is an acknowledgment that this could be an unconventional campaign,’ one person close to the discussions said.”
Biden himself is listening to aides who have been urging him to run given his experience and credibility, as he observes the calamitous circus that is the Trump administration with horror.
He is, however, purposefully trying to convince his staff and potential donors to stop speculating about his plans to run and instead focus their energies on the 2018 midterm elections and winning back control of Congress for the Democrats.
“He was very clear that he didn’t want the narrative to be about him running in 2020,” Michael Wolf, a major Democratic donor told Politico after meeting Biden. “He shut it down very quickly.”
Once the midterms are over, we can expect that speculation to start rising to a fever pitch.