Former vice president Joe Biden has been a top-tier presidential candidate — as far as polls are concerned — since launching his campaign, to the disappointment of some of the most liberal members of the left. But the former lawmaker’s unapologetically moderate worldview in a political climate where being on the extremes seems increasingly common is perhaps why he is doing so well.

During a recent town hall in New Hampshire, Biden was asked whether he would consider choosing a Republican as a running mate.

“The answer is I would, but I can’t think of one now,” Biden said Monday to applause and laughter.

“I’m serious,” he added. “Here’s what I mean. Let me explain that. You know, there’s some really decent Republicans that are out there still, but here’s the problem right now, with the well-known ones — they’ve got to step up.”
”Whomever I would pick were I fortunate enough to be your nominee, I’d pick somebody who was simpatico with me, who knew what my priorities were and knew what I wanted to do," Biden said. “We could disagree on tactics but strategically we’d have to be on the exact same page.”

Not long after the story went public, “Republican VP” was trending on Twitter. And the backlash from many on the left to the potential Democratic presidential nominee choosing a Republican as his No. 2 was swift.

Some of the responses failed to take Biden’s statement into full context. The chances of the former vice president choosing a member of the GOP to join him on the Democratic Party ticket is low. He told those gathered that his running mate would need to share his priorities and be “on the same page” as him. And he admitted that he can’t think of a single Republican who fits that bill.

But the fact that Biden would not firmly reject the possibility of sharing a ticket with someone from the right is a reminder of a core piece of the former lawmaker’s political worldview: Biden thinks Republicans are capable of helping him make America great for everyone.

Biden is well-known for his ability to work across the aisle. The relationships he built during his time in the Senate have shaped his view of the GOP as people with whom he disagrees politically but can still find common ground. But in the current political era, in which Republican lawmakers are known mostly for their loyalty to Trump, Biden has attracted the scorn of liberals who think he is naive or simply ill-equipped to be the person liberals want to lead America away from Trumpism.

As vocal as the Democratic base often is, the group may make up less of a percentage of the left — and particularly the voters Biden hopes to win — than some believe. Only 28 percent of Americans consider themselves Democrats, according to Gallup — and that includes moderate Democrats.

If Biden is going to return to Washington, this time as president, it’s not likely to be solely because of the support of the left, which right now is more likely to back Sens. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.) or Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass). And Biden seems to believe that the best way to get Trump out of office is by running a campaign that holds out hope that there are Republicans who will find his vision for America more attractive than that of the current administration.