It's 1984 all over again.
That was the first time Joe Biden ran for president. Then he jumped in again in the 1988 race. Twice a loser, he went again a generation later, only to again lose. That's when he settled for the vice presidency, which former veep John Nance Garner once said was "not worth a bucket of warm spit."
But Biden is back, at least according to a new piece in The Atlantic.
"Joe Biden is running," writes Edward-Issac Dovere. "The former vice president will make his candidacy official with a video announcement next Wednesday, according to people familiar with the discussions who have been told about them by top aides."
Biden’s announcement video will draw, in part, on footage shot two weeks ago outside his old family home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he likes to bring people and tell stories about how his grandfather would sit at the kitchen table, talking about making ends meet. But the campaign is still making key decisions on what will happen next, including whether to go cute for a launch event by doing it on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, famous for the training montage from Rocky, or go for a powerful challenge directed right at Trump by heading to Charlottesville, Virginia, where the president infamously blamed "both sides" of a neo-Nazi march in August 2017.
Charlottesville was the event that first led Biden to speak out forcefully against Trump, and by going there, he could use the event as a rallying point for "the battle for the soul of this nation" that he’s been talking about since Trump refused to condemn the white supremacists that weekend. (Biden’s team has also looked at locations back home in Delaware.)
While Biden has tried and failed three times (or as Dovere says, perhaps seven times "depending on how you count"), the boy from Scranton is uniquely positioned this time around. The Democrats already in the field have gone hard left, and Biden will stroll in with his avuncular "aw shucks" affability and go "Whoa, now, everbody."
Democratic candidates are promising free healthcare, free college tuition, free cash for everyone (even if they "choose" not to work). They’re promising slavery reparations, a top tax rate of 70 percent or higher, and one new member of Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — whom the Democratic National Committee chairman has called "the future of the party" — is calling for the end of planes and cars, as well as farting cows.
But Biden, a career politician (he only held a "real" job for a few years in his 20s, and he’s been living off the public dole for nearly half a century), will play it down the middle. The 76-year-old will be somber and serious — presidential even (unlike, often, our current president). With a slew of political lightweights in the field, Biden may be the Democrats' only candidate with a viable shot of knocking off President Trump.
The mainstream media will, of course, embrace him — look how quickly the stories about "Handsy Joe" have disappeared. And voters in the middle could well go along for the ride.
Dovere sees that path, too. "The primary, Biden believes, will be easier than some might think: He sees a clear path down the middle of the party, especially with Bernie Sanders occupying a solid 20 percent of the progressive base, and most of the other candidates fighting for the rest. And the announcement comes at a moment when many in the party have become anxious about Sanders’s strength, with some beginning to wonder whether Biden might be the only sure counterweight to stop him from getting the nomination."
Trump flipped Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania in the 2016 election, but Scranton Joe’s appeal to blue-collar workers could win them right back for the Democrats in 2020. He’s from Pennsylvania, the DNC is holding its convention in Milwaukee, and the blue-collar vote in Michigan is tremendous.
In the latest Monmouth University poll, Biden "holds the lead with 27% support among Democratic voters who are likely to attend the Iowa caucuses in February."
Biden does especially well among voters age 65 and older (44%), those earning less than $50,000 a year (38%), and those without a college degree (34%). On the ideological spectrum, Biden’s support comes more from self-described moderates and conservatives (35%) than from liberals (20%), but the same is true for Sanders although to a lesser degree (20% non-liberals, 13% liberals).