Announcing a Biden-Warren ticket would shake up the race
With two weeks to go before the first Democratic presidential debate, friends and supporters of Vice President Joe Biden believe it’s time for him to make a decision about running or risk becoming the Mario Cuomo of his time. But according to the polls, if Biden comes into the Democratic primary race as a solo act, odds are he will only serve as a spoiler, wounding Hillary Clinton just enough to allow Bernie Sanders to make a race of it.
That’s a risky proposition for the sitting v.p., who might end up embarrassed by his own weak showing and seen as handing the presidency to the GOP by helping nominate an ultra-left socialist who got disemboweled by the Rove-Koch SuperPac machine.
But there is one way the 73-year-old two-time presidential candidate could shake up the race in his third presidential bid: super-charge his campaign kickoff by announcing that he’ll be running as a ticket with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
The move would be unusual but not unprecedented. In 1976, former California Governor Ronald Reagan, an arch conservative, tapped moderate GOP Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his proposed running-mate well before the Republican Convention, trying to present a balanced ticket to compete against incumbent Gerald Ford for the nomination. The gambit didn’t work, but it did garner a lot of publicity for Reagan-Schweiker ticket and made lots of moderate Republicans give the right-wing candidate a second look.
Obviously, something like this would be a very bold move for the normally conventional Biden. And it might be perceived as a stunt. But it also might just turn the current race on its head.
With Warren standing by his side at the announcement, Biden would immediately reposition himself as a new type of presidential candidate, changing the way the game is played, and establishing himself as a staunch liberal ready to take on the banks and Wall Street insiders. And by adding the younger, energetic Warren to his ticket, he’d also shake off the cobwebs of age and attract women who might otherwise be holding out for Clinton.
Democratic women voters hoping to finally break what Clinton calls the “highest, hardest glass ceiling” might be assuaged by the prospect of a female vice president who is being groomed for a future run in eight years or even four, if a then-77 year-old President Biden decides not to seek a second term. And many Sanders supporters, who originally started out pining for a Warren run, would be torn in their allegiance.
Remember, Biden doesn’t have to beat Clinton with women or steal all the hard-line liberals from Sanders to make it a race. He just has to peel enough of those two core constituencies away from each of his opponents to buoy his poll numbers while deflating theirs.
With Biden and Warren barnstorming the early primary states – Warren working her neighboring state of New Hampshire while Biden focuses on blue-collar, heavily Catholic Iowa – the other candidates would be out-flanked and outnumbered. Plus the media would absolutely love the idea and trip all over themselves to tell their political boy-meets-girl story.
Who knows? Maybe Biden and Warren already floated the idea during their highly-publicized “secret” meeting in August.
Of course, this scenario is all conjecture and a long-shot at best. But if Biden really wants to shake up the race, his best bet is to come in with both barrels blasting. Announcing Warren as his running-mate from the get-go would clearly be a Hail Mary pass.
But at third and long, Biden may not have a better play. And a good Catholic boy like Joe Biden is probably not above asking for one more Hail Mary in his political lifetime.