“You don’t run for second place,” Stacey Abrams told the ladies of The View this afternoon. Abrams, who refuses to concede her loss to Georgia governor Brian Kemp last October, is enjoying a second life as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate or, why not, president in 2020. Indeed, Abrams has become so popular among Democrats that a few advisers to Joe Biden recently told the New York Times that he might announce Abrams as his running mate long before the first caucuses and primaries are held next year.“With a younger but still accomplished vice-presidential nominee at his side,” the Times reasoned, “Mr. Biden could hope to demonstrate his commitment to diversity and to restoring stability to Washington.”
Well, it was thought. At the moment Biden is hoping to recover from all the bad press that the Times has brought him. The Abrams trial balloon popped soon after it was launched. Progressive critics found Biden’s idea paternalistic and condescending. Yesterday, he fell face-first into the identity-politics cauldron by saying that America’s “English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture,” has “got to change.” By dropping the principles of due process? Biden didn’t elaborate.
Still, his gestures toward woke culture have won him few friends. Many Progressives can’t forgive him for not being able to stop Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court three decades ago. His paeans to diversity only remind Democrats of his age, sex, and pallor.
Michael Tomasky stated Biden’s dilemma well earlier this month. “Nearly everyone thinks he can beat Donald Trump,” Tomasky wrote, also in the Times. “At the same time, no one thinks he’ll get the chance to do it.” Nor are his chances improving. Biden maintains a double-digit lead in national polls of Democrats, but his margin in the states is narrowing, or gone altogether. He’s one point ahead of Bernie Sanders in Emerson’s recent Iowa poll. Emerson’s Wisconsin poll has him 15 points behind Sanders. A February poll of New Hampshire Democrats had him 4 points behind Sanders.
Money will be a problem. “Those close to the former vice president believe he would start off at a fundraising disadvantage compared with would-be rivals, whose campaigns have benefited from an early flood of small-dollar donations from the most liberal wing of the party,” the AP reported earlier this month. If Biden isn’t able to match Robert Francis O’Rourke’s $6.1 million raised in 24 hours, his candidacy will be in trouble. For a popular former vice president who’s been in public life since 1972 and run for president twice before to be outraised by an ex-congressman who has trouble controlling his arm movements and a 77-year-old socialist would be credibility killing.
Biden is reminding Democrats of his flaws, when he should be using this time to make an affirmative case for his candidacy that goes beyond airy assertions of “electability.” Makes you wonder what he’s thinking. Or if he’s thinking at all.