Vice President Joe Biden stated today that he can think of no reason not to run for president in 2016 and this highlights a potential showdown with presumed Democratic front runner Hillary Rodham Clinton. There has been a great deal of concern in certain segments of the Democratic Party that Clinton would have an unobstructed run to the Democratic nomination in 2016 and that a lack of a contested primary would hurt her campaign. Biden is generally viewed as an “institutional” candidate, similar to Clinton, and he would not address some of the policy concerns of the more Progressive segments of the party, but his presence in the primary would provide an active challenger for Clinton.
Biden joked with reporters today that there was one potential reason that he would not run for president in 2016. He said that as president he would be unable to drive his Corvette anymore. When pressed for a more concrete reason, he could not give one. Vice President Biden then said that he would likely wait until the summer of 2015 before making a final decision on entering the race.
Biden’s decision to wait until late in 2015 could prove risky. Hillary Clinton already enjoys a considerable lead in polls regarding potential Democratic candidates, and she is already gaining support among influential fund raising organizations. Biden says his decision will be based on whether he thinks he is the best person for the job at the time. He claimed his focus as a candidate would be based on helping ordinary Americans, and creating a sound foreign policy that protects the interests of the United States. Based on these comments made today, Joe Biden highlights a potential showdown with Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Foreign policy is one of the areas that Joe Biden has always claimed expertise in. It was one of the reasons Biden was supposedly chosen as President Barack Obama’s running mate back in 2008. Foreign policy was thought to be one of the weaknesses in Obama’s campaign, and the presence of a foreign policy expert like Biden on the ticket was intended to shore up that potential weak point.
Prior to becoming vice president, Biden was a long-time member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the U.S. Senate. He served on that committee for over twenty years and was the chairman of the committee on two occasions, from 2001 to 2003, and then again in 2007 until he left the Senate to become vice president. He took particular interest in the conflicts on the Balkan Peninsula in the 1990’s.
Unfortunately for Biden, this long history of foreign policy experience may not benefit him much in a campaign against Hillary Clinton. Clinton has her own foreign policy experience from her time as First Lady in her husband’s administration, as well as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term. She can claim just as much experience in that arena as Joe Biden, negating what may be his greatest strength as a candidate.
Biden may score “points” with Progressives on some issues, however. He did oppose the first Iraq War in 1991, along with the majority of Democrats in Congress at that time. He did eventually support the resolution to invade Iraq again in 2002, but he did introduce legislation to authorize force only after all diplomatic efforts were exhausted. This legislation eventually failed however, and he later called his vote to support the authorization as a huge mistake. He also was strongly opposed to the Afghanistan “surge” in 2007.
Regardless of whether Joe Biden is the “ideal” candidate in the eyes of Progressives and others concerned about Clinton’s candidacy, his potential involvement in the 2016 election would create the competitive primary that some Democratic pundits are seeking. If they are worried that an unopposed Hillary Clinton candidacy would harm her general election campaign, Joe Biden highlights the showdown that they seek.
Opinion By Christopher V. Spencer