There seems to be a lot more talk in Washington and in political operative circles around the country about the prospect of Vice President Joe Biden running for president in 2016. Interesting. Is a Biden candidacy more likely as a result of his recent family tragedy? It would be perfectly plausible for anyone who has suffered the kind of loss he has to want to rededicate themselves to their life’s work as well as stay as busy as possible. There is probably no better way on earth to stay busy than to run for president, to say nothing of how busy your life becomes if you ultimately get elected. The death of Biden’s son and the way he handled it with such dignity and grace struck a chord with not just Americans but also with people all over the world. Perhaps it made people see him in a new light and maybe even revealed a somewhat hidden dimension of his character.
All of this has happened at the same time the Hillary Clinton campaign is limping along as a synthetic, tired, manufactured exercise that appears to be — at best — winning by default. I actually feel sorry for the Clinton surrogates I see on TV. They gamely tough it out as they recite the talking points, deny the obvious, defend the indefensible and pretend there is some energy within the campaign.
In a lot of ways, Biden would be the true anti-Hillary. He is completely uninhibited, he is impossible to script — which makes him seem authentic — and he has a human appeal that everyone can relate to. Clinton, on the other hand, is running a surreal campaign that avoids crowds, media and spontaneity of any kind. She is protecting her lead in the most standard, unimaginative way possible. Compared with Clinton’s robotic, stiff approach, could having a reputation for occasionally saying the wrong thing and hugging too much work to Biden’s advantage in an era where voters want the real thing?
The Democrats appear to be yearning for an emotional connection with their candidate, which could explain the flurry of excitement surrounding the Bernie Sanders campaign. Sen. Sanders, I-Vt., seems to have an outsize appeal, which could be a product of how his outside-the-box approach contrasts with the stale Clinton march. But whatever Bernie can do, can’t Biden do it better? Maybe Sanders’ candidacy has exposed the opening that exists for Biden in the Democratic primary. Maybe this is Biden’s moment.
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Ed Rogers is a contributor to The Washington Post’s PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.
Special to The Washington Post