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Team Biden mulls farout options

Issued: 2018-03-09


One possibility is picking a running mate out of the gate, perhaps someone younger or from outside of politics.


03/09/2018 05:01 AM EST

Joe Biden has described to advisers a shift: from people telling him to run because they thought he could be the one to beat President Trump, to them saying they think he has the credibility and experience to do the job. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Joe Biden knows that winning in 2020 would require a shoot-the-moon set of circumstances and luck. So his team is on the hunt for a moon shot.

Between stops on his book tour and in the ramp-up for what will be a heavy midterms campaign schedule, a tight circle of aides has been brainstorming a range of tear-up-the-playbook ideas for a White House run, according to people who’ve been part of the discussions or told about them.

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On the list: announcing his candidacy either really early or really late in the primary process so that he’d define the field around him or let it define itself before scrambling the field; skipping Iowa and New Hampshire and going straight to South Carolina, where he has always had a strong base of support; announcing a running mate right out of the gate and possibly picking one from outside of politics; and making a pitch that he can be a bridge not just to disaffected Democrats, but to Republicans revolting against President Donald Trump.

They’ve also discussed an idea some donors and supporters have been pitching Biden on directly for months: kick off by announcing that he’d only run for one term. One person who’s pitched the idea said Biden would try to sell voters on “a reset presidency.” The former vice president would pick a younger Democratic running mate and argue that he’d be the elder statesman to get the country and government back in order post-Trump and be the bridge to the next generation.

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Biden is “thinking through a million unconventional options, because there is an acknowledgment that this could be an unconventional campaign,” said one person involved in the discussions.

Biden hasn’t been actively exploring the presidential options himself, and is far from making any decision about whether he’ll run. But, according to people who’ve spoken with him, he’s already pushed back on the one-term idea. If he runs, he doesn’t want to be a lame duck from Day One.

He’s also not a fan of essentially accepting the premise that he’s too old for the job and needs a pass to get into the Oval Office.

The discussions reflect realities that Biden and his team are facing as they weigh whether to get real about running. He definitely still wants to be president but knows that his age will be a factor (he’ll turn 78 two weeks after Election Day 2020). As a guy who's been in politics for nearly 50 years, he recognizes how tricky it would be to run at a time of political upheaval. And he understands that if he runs, the regrets over Hillary Clinton’s attempted 2016 coronation will guarantee a crowded primary field, which he’d have to both fully participate in and stand apart from.

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