Why Joe Biden Should Run…Just In Case…

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
Font Size:

NBC News is reporting that sources indicate Vice President Joe Biden will announce a decision in the next 48 hours on whether he will run for president.

There are compelling reasons for getting in — or staying out — of the race. (RELATED: Biden Decision Expected Within 48 Hours)

Why he shouldn’t:

He has already flamed out of two presidential bids, and this time, he’d be just another old white guy running against a historic candidate. This would feel especially true, coming on the heels of Clinton’s terrific debate performance. Instead of going down in history as a powerful veep, Biden could go down as an ambitious pol who tried to play spoiler and stop the first female president.

Why he should:

Way back in February 2014, I presented several reasons why Biden should be taken seriously. Everything I outlined back then is still true, but now there’s a new reason why Biden should run: for the good of the party.

The filing deadlines to make it onto presidential ballots are rapidly closing, so what would happen if an unexpected illness (or indictment) were to hit Clinton, say, in December? Democrats could be stuck with the not-ready-for-prime-time players who were on the debate stage with Clinton, last week. The most likely nominee would be an avuncular socialist.

But — and here’s my theory — what if Biden gets in merely as a sort of precaution — a sort of safety net, in case something goes wrong? That way, if Hillary self-implodes, he’s there to capitalize on it. It would give the Democrats a plausible General Election candidate and quickly garner the very public support of one Barack Obama.

But if Clinton doesn’t implode, Biden can run a fairly anodyne, positive campaign that is tantamount to basically a farewell tour. Biden, of course, can’t admit to this strategy — but he can leak it via “sources close to the vice president.” (An obvious asterisk is that Biden is still coping with the loss of his son, Beau. But we know — via leaks that reportedly came from Joe Biden — that Beau wanted him to do this.)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Biden could both be a heartbeat away from the nomination and still maintain his status as a loyal liberal who doesn’t wind up being shipped off to Siberia. He can take a shot at being the right man at the right time — without the risk of being on the wrong side of history.