Although 2016 is still a few years away it has not stopped pundits from speculating on who that year's presidential nominees will be. Most of the attention has centered on Hillary Clinton, but there's one towering figure who pundits ignore at their own risk: Joe Biden, the lovable and goofy vice president who has been as effective if not more so than Obama. Biden hasn't said conclusively whether he'll run, but if he does, he could beat Clinton and be a better candidate in the general election.
Immediately, Biden has a few shortcomings, most notably his age. Currently 70, Biden would be 73 when elected and 74 at inauguration, making him older than Reagan in 1980, and an older first-time nominee than Bob Dole or John McCain. Second, Biden lacks the refined nature of many previous presidents. Biden often speaks impulsively, his rhetoric curt and humorous, and occasionally he appears to take serious matters a bit too lightly. Biden is not married to a hero of the Democratic Party, and he also will have the inability to distance himself from the failures of the Obama administration. He will surely be blamed and criticized for all of the Obama administration's shortcomings, regardless of how involved Biden actually was in those shortcomings.
So why is Biden a contender? Biden brings experience that even Clinton does not have. That is not to say that she is inexperienced, but Biden brings his own unique set of skills. He was a force in the Senate for years for over 35 years, and it's hard to think of anyone who has more legislative experience than he does. He has friends in both parties and an ability to compromise, unlike many of his former Senate colleagues, and his history of bipartisanship makes him an appealing alternative to Clinton. To add to his experience on the Hill, Biden has made himself into a global name, visiting foreign nations and meeting presidents, most recently in India, ensuring that his name is known around the world.
Biden’s Senate connections make him somewhat more of a credible candidate than Clinton. Yes, she also served in the Senate, but only for eight years. Yes, Clinton has executive experience from running the State Department, but Vice President Biden has taken a more active role in the affairs of almost every aspect of the Obama administration. Biden has been able to compromise with Mitch McConnell and John McCain, a promising sign for his ability to find consensus as president.
Biden is quirky and odd, but quite effective. His speeches are full of compassion, empathetic and connective. He also hails from the working class and has the ability to connect with blue-collar workers in a way Clinton cannot. Furthermore, if the Republicans nominate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2016, a distinct possibility, states that Clinton would count on to win, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Iowa, and Michigan, could potentially end up going red due to Christie’s working-class appeal. Biden would be much more effective at keeping these states and holding on to the blue-collar voters that are crucial for a Democratic victory.
Just because Clinton appears to be a shoe-in for the job does not mean she will actually be voted in. There is no doubt that both Biden and Clinton are qualified, but Biden will have an easier time winning battleground states, and will bring a greater knowledge of how laws make it through Congress. In short, he is a vocal, accomplished leader who could win the election and craft a huge amount of policy while in office, and isn’t that what every Democrat really wants?