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What if Joe Biden Won’t Run?

US President Joe Biden. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
US President Joe Biden. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Try this on for size for a second: Joe Biden looks pretty likely to run – even though he has multiple scandals brewing. What happens if he does not run? Who would the Democrats turn to? 

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Multiple factors support the notion that Biden will not run again.

First, Joe Biden is currently the oldest serving president ever. If Biden won re-election and lived through his second term, he would be 86 years old when he left office.

Voters are openly concerned with Biden’s age, and frankly, given Biden’s tendency to search and search for words, they should be concerned. The second issue is Biden’s popularity. His poll numbers are not good. 

Could he win another election?

A Weak Bench for the Democrats if No Joe Biden Run

The Democrats have a weak bench. No obvious successor to Joe Biden currently exists. Democrats will probably have to settle for one flawed candidate or another. Let’s consider three possible candidates. 

Vice President Kamala Harris is the most likely successor. Harris is certainly the most well-positioned since the vice presidency is a launching pad for the presidency. Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, LBJ, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush – they all served as vice president before assuming the presidency.

Other former vice presidents, like Walter Mondale and Al Gore, have earned their party’s nominations before falling in the general election. 

The bar for a vice president making a push for the presidency is fairly low. Harris has the ambition, the credentials, and the identity to push for president. But Harris is not especially popular. Further, her vice presidency has been criticized for ineffectiveness. And memories of Harris’ 2020 campaign, a high-profile disaster that fizzled out before Christmas 2019, will leave Democrats wondering whether Harris is capable of conducting a winning campaign for the White House. 

Immediate Frontrunners

Significantly more popular than Kamala Harris, although much less experienced, is Michelle Obama. The former First Lady is something of a cultural deity, a full-blown institution currently enjoying success as a bestselling author. But Obama has never served in public office, and she has been quite clear that she has no intention of ever running. Many people say that, of course – right before they run for office.

If Obama wants to get involved in politics, she’ll cut right to the front of the line, and that has to be a tempting proposition for just about anyone. Democratic voters, nostalgic for the pre-Trump days, would likely be receptive to another Obama candidacy – although the ongoing autopsy of Barack Obama’s two-term presidency is becoming increasingly grim, with many progressives feeling Obama was a progressive in name only. Still, among mainstream Democrats, Obama remains an icon, and the Obama name has unmatched value.

Hillary Clinton Reboot?

The wild card candidate, with plenty of clout but unmatched baggage, is Hillary Clinton. Would Clinton run again?

It seems unlikely, but you just can’t quite rule it out, can you?

Clinton has suffered two upset defeats. The first was in the 2008 Democratic primaries when her heavily favored campaign lost to the upstart Barack Obama. The second was in 2016, after Clinton patiently waited out the Obama presidency and finally earned the DNC ticket.

Clinton then proceeded to suffer the biggest upset loss in modern political history. One might think Clinton is demoralized and vanquished after her two unsuccessful presidential bids.

But Clinton is a uniquely ambitious creature who remains unsatisfied. If she wants to be relevant again, she’ll probably be relevant again. 

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.