Although Election Day is still more than a year away, the 2016 presidential election is poised to become one characterized by strong personalities ranging from the business mogul Donald Trump to the politically seasoned former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. However, one critical and potentially game changing question remains: Will Vice-President Joe Biden throw his own hat in the ring for a third outing as a presidential candidate?
“There are two things going on,” Professor of Political Science Keith Fitzgerald said. “There are very talented and experienced people at work building a campaign. And it’s real. And it’s going on right now. On the other hand, he has not made up his mind.”
There is, however, a clear groundwork that has been laid out for a Biden campaign. On Aug. 22, Biden met with Senator Elizabeth Warren to discuss economic policy. On Sept. 7, he spoke at the United Steelworkers’ headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh, eliciting chants of “Run Joe Run!” According to NBC, Biden did not hesitate to remind union workers about what separates him from the candidates already in the race.
“In D.C., I’m known as ‘Middle Class Joe,’” Biden told the crowd. “And they say it in D.C. not like a compliment. It’s like I’m unsophisticated.”
The populist tone of his speech is not new to the 2016 race. The goal of every candidate has been to convince the U.S. that he or she is the right option for the citizenry going forward, as the voting public will ultimately decide the election.
“I think people are looking for some sort of reassurance and ‘real talk’ from the candidates as they will potentially be the leader of the biggest economy which is on shaky social and financial stilts,” thesis student Adrian Rosario commented.
Biden’s speech was also punctuated by points such as the need for higher wages and infrastructure investment, as well as improved access to education paid for by increased taxes on the wealthy. However, the question of whether he would run remained unanswered.
“Biden needs to step up and announce his candidacy before his chance slips,” Rosario added. “Right now the Democrats are wary of Clinton, but unwilling to risk the chance of Bernie Sanders losing, despite his excellent policy goals.”
Considering the lack of an official announcement, Biden has been polling fairly well. In the latest Monmouth survey, Biden received 22 percent of the vote, compared to 42 percent for Clinton and 20 percent for Sanders. However, despite Clinton’s early lead, “Middle Class Joe” appears to be quickly gaining support as interest in his potential campaign grows.
“It’s really sort of a throwback to an age when ‘politician’ wasn’t a dirty word – that’s the way I describe Joe Biden,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s a politician, but he’s a politician in a way that politicians used to be. Because he really works hard to relate to people and he maintains this connection to people after years of being in power – he stays close to people.”
Biden’s honesty and connection to the people was especially apparent in a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, where he opened up about his ongoing struggle coping with the loss of his son Beau, as well as his doubts concerning his candidacy.
“I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there,” Biden said. “I’m being completely honest. Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are.”
While Biden is no stranger to giving his all to an election, it remains to be seen whether he believes he can continue that trend this year.
“If he runs and it’s not fun, that’s bad. I think it is bad news for everybody,” Fitzgerald commented on Biden’s possible bid for office. “I think fun is a key word for his campaign, just the level of enjoyment, and how you see him having the time of his life.”
However, Beau’s memory seemed to serve another purpose during Colbert’s interview, as Biden recalled his son’s endorsement of his father.
“You’ve just got to get up. And I’d feel like I was letting down Beau…if I didn’t just get up,” Biden explained.
While the question of whether Biden will ultimately join the race remains, Rosario remains optimistic about Biden’s eventual decision.
“I want to say he will run. It’s just a question of when,” Rosario said. “As a democratic voter, I have a lot of options, strong candidates, lots of experience, or just very good suggestions. But I feel like I’ll be ‘ridin’ with Biden.’”