The Washington Post

Joe Biden really wants to run for president

Here's Vice President Joe Biden on whether or not he will run for president in 2016: "There may be reasons I don't run, but there's no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run."


US Vice President Joe Biden takes his sunglasses off as he arrives for a campaign event with President Barack Obama at Strawbery Banke Field in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, September 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

It's the latest quote in a long line of them that all make one thing crystal clear: Joe Biden would really like to run for president.

That's not a terribly surprising fact given that, in our mind, one of the best indicators of whether you will run for president is whether you have done it before. Once you get the bug, it never (really) leaves you. And, in Biden's case, he has already run for president twice before (1988 and 2008) and absolutely loves the hurly-burly of the political game.  Plus, he's spent the last six years as the second most powerful politician in the country and, prior to that, spent three decades in the Senate. "For me, the decision to run or not run is going to be determined by me, as to whether I am the best-qualified person to focus on the two things I've spent my whole life on -- giving ordinary people a fightin' chance to make it and a sound foreign policy that's based on rational interests in the United States," Biden told CNN.

There's just one  thing in the way of Joe Biden's presidential ambitions. Her name is Hillary Clinton and, as we have written in this space recently, she is the biggest favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination since at least 1984.  In a WaPo-ABC News  poll in late January, Clinton led Biden by an eye-popping 73 percent to 12 percent margin in a hypothetical 2016 Democratic primary. While early polling is just that, getting into a race in which you start down by 60+ points against a candidate who is already universally known and will be incredibly well financed, makes for a very, very, very difficult race.

Biden and his political team, of course, know all of this.  And, we continue to believe that there is no way that Biden runs if Hillary decides to get in -- no matter what the vice president says now. So, what's he up to with the I-really-am-going-to-run-seriously-I-am-not-kidding rhetoric? He's working like crazy to reserve his place at the front of the line if Clinton doesn't run.

Remember that the things candidates say about their interest in running at this point in an election cycle is almost always aimed at the media, donors and activists. (Regular people barely pay attention to elections in an election year.)  So, Biden is really talking to that group of insiders. And what he's saying is "If she doesn't run, I'm in. The line starts behind me."  Biden wants to make sure that major donors and early state activists who will be free agents if Clinton doesn't run know not to sign on with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, New York Gov Andrew Cuomo or anyone else before they talk to him.

It's a smart piece of messaging from Biden.  Rather than allow the ambitious second-tier candidates to raise doubts about whether he would be a candidate in a Hillary-less race, Biden is making sure there is absolutely no uncertainty.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Quoted
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

the-fix

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.