Biden Reportedly Thinks He's The Only Person Who Can Beat Trump In 2020

by Seth Millstein
Hunter Martin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

According to POLITICO, former Vice President Joe Biden is leaning towards a 2020 presidential run. Biden has privately told associates that he sees himself as the only candidate who can defeat President Trump at the polls, POLITICO reported Friday, and is said to be "edging closer" to launching what would be his third campaign for the White House.

Biden, who strongly considered running in 2016 but opted not to after the death of his son, has made conflicting and sometimes confusing statements regarding his 2020 plans. One month after Trump's victory, the former vice president and Delaware senator flatly told reporters that "I'm going to run in 2020." Moments later, however, he told those same reporters that "I'm not committing to anything."

Then, in May, Biden definitively ruled out another go at the White House, telling a group of New Hampshire Democrats that "I'm not running." But he modulated his tone two weeks later, insisting at a conference that he will "probably not" run. Five months later, Biden told Vanity Fair that he "decided I’m not going to decide not to run," although he also clarified (if you want to call it that) that he hasn't "decided to run," either.

"We'll see what happens," he concluded.

Publicly, he's been all over the map. But according to POLITICO, Biden's attitude has "shifted unmistakably in favor of running" over the last few months. The reason of this, apparently, is that he sees himself as the only potential Democratic contender with a shot at unseating Trump.

Now is probably a good time to note that Biden has a book coming out in November, and he'll soon be on tour promoting it. That's not to say that POLITICO's reporting is inaccurate, but it's also true that Biden's book will probably sell a few more copies if people believe he's running for president. So, take all of this with a grain of salt.

In any event, Biden will be 77 when the next presidential election comes around, which would make him one of the older candidates in the 2020 Democratic field. But he wouldn't necessarily be the oldest: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will be 79 on election day, while California Gov. Jerry Brown will be 82. Both Sanders and Brown have refused to rule out presidential runs in 2020.

Although it's much too early to draw any firm conclusions about 2020, age has emerged as a central concern for some Democrats. Trump will be 74 on election day, and some on the left have argued that Democrats would be foolish to nominate a candidate who's also in their 70s. Such a standard would exclude not only Biden, Sanders and Brown from running, but also Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who will be 71 in 2020. Former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid compared the Democratic field to "an old folks' home," and former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean suggested in August Democrats should nominate somebody of a younger generation.

“I have nothing against any of the people my age who will run, but I really do believe that if we’re going to appeal to the younger generation, we’ve got to change the party," Dean told POLITICO.

Some progressives, however, don't think Democrats don't need to be counting years while selecting their next presidential candidate. Writing at Vox, Matthew Yglesias notes that Sanders "certainly gives the impression of being healthy and spry" when he's on the campaign trail, thus offsetting many of the negative perceptions voters might have of an older candidate. The same could be said of Biden, who's just as energetic and peppy in 2017 as he was 20 years earlier.

If Biden does run, he'll likely have the support of Ellen DeGeneres, who just about begged him to run during an interview on her show Thursday. As usual, Biden was circumspect about his plans.

"Honest to God," Biden told DeGeneres. "I haven't made up my mind." If the past is any indicator, it could be while until he does.