The Also-Rans: Joe Biden

ImageWell, we are now down to three. Three candidates who have a chance at being President come this November. One Republican and two Democrats. History will be made regardless of who wins. We will see the first black President, the first female to be elected to the Oval Office or the oldest Commander-in-Chief. However, even though we are now just down to three viable contenders for the crown, it was just a few months ago when the field was completely overcrowded for both parties. Over the next few days and weeks, I will be looking at these one-time candidates and take a glimpse back at their campaigns and see what went right, went wrong and what made them think that they had a chance at the White House. First on the list is my favorite Senator from Delaware: Joe Biden.

Biden was one of the first to throw his hat into the ring for the ’08 election. Pretty much the moment John Kerry lost the election to Dubya, Biden was making it known that he had intentions of running. While he didn’t officially declare his candidacy for the Democratic nomination until January 31, 2007, he had made numerous declarations on talk shows prior to that, dating all the way back to December 2004. After officially entering the race, he set his sites on a few targets. Target one, of course, was the current President, which was appropriate being that he is a Democrat. He ripped into Bush regarding the War on Iraq at every opportunity, stating that the current plan was a disaster. The White House had just put the troop surge into place and Biden was all over it. He had this to say about the strategy: “[President Bush should] make it clear that the purpose that he has troops in there is to in fact protect against al Qaeda gaining chunks of territory, training the Iraqi forces, force protection and for our forces. It’s not to get in the midst of a civil war.”

Biden did have an interesting take on Iraq, and this has led many Democrats to feel that he will be made Secretary of State if a Democrat is elected President. His feeling is that the war cannot be won or lost (like a ‘football game, he stated), but that our strategy and outlook at what is happening there needed to change. He states that the best way to ensure that the entire country would not fall into chaos and civil war is to decentralize the government there and split Iraq into three separate regions, giving control to each of the major groups of people there: Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis. Allow each of the regions to govern themselves, instead of trying to force a centralized democracy throughout all of Iraq. Sure, maybe you are reinforcing separatism among different religions and creeds. OK, we can’t make ourselves feel all cuddly at night knowing that the Shiites and Sunnis are singing and holding hands together while celebrating good ol’ American style democracy. But, Biden’s plan is probably the best possible solution to reach peace in that country.

Another target of Biden’s was fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton. He was quite critical of her plan to get out of Iraq. While he did say during his campaign that Clinton was definitely qualified to run for President (which was smart, in case she actually won the nomination and needed him to campaign for her), he seemed to take quite a few potshots at her on the campaign trail as well as during the debates he participated in. On the other hand, he couldn’t find enough good things to say about another Democrat who was running, Barack Obama. In fact, while trying to compliment Obama, his mouth landed him in a bit of hot water. The same day he officially entered the race, he was quoted as saying the following regarding Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, … I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” While he was able to get Jesse Jackson to back him up afterwards, it was just another case of Biden’s tendency to stick his foot in his mouth. The problem with the guy is that he just can’t keep his month shut, and eventually he says something stupid and he has to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining himself.

As his campaign wore on through 2007, Biden was able to make some waves in the Democratic debates that were held, and garner some press here and there, but he didn’t gain any traction in the polls. He stated from the beginning that he was counting on Iowa a lot, and that he would need to finish at least 3rd in that state’s Caucus in January 2008 or he would end his campaign. Prior to the Iowa caucus, Biden got some play on the late night talk shows and political news networks for the dig he made at Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani during a debate, when he said, “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, and a verb and 9/11.” In terms of endorsements, Biden’s cupboard was pretty bare. The biggest names on his list were fellow Delaware Senator Tom Carper and ‘The West Wing’ actor Richard Schiff, hardly the pedigree needed to win the nomination, let alone the White House. In terms of finances, he was able to raise about $8 million and spent about three-fourths of it, with over $2 million coming from his Senate Re-Election Fund.

In the end, Biden finished fifth in Iowa with 1% of the vote. Immediately afterwards, he declared an end to his campaign and went back to Washington, just as he promised he would. Nobody really gave Biden much of a chance, not with the Obama-Clinton train rolling through. However, he did have some good ideas and I do feel that he would make a great Secretary of State should either Obama or Clinton get to the Oval Office. While he has publicly stated he would not want the job if it was offered, I would hope he would change his mind. I believe that his plan for Iraq id the most realistic chance for lasting peace in that area. While Biden’s moth has gotten him into trouble, I tend to think it is because he is just too honest. And that is hard to find in the world of politics.

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