Why not Joe? Clinton should consider Biden for VP.

It’s gotten to that point in the election cycle where candidates are starting to think about who their running mate is going to be. It feels a bit early, especially on the Republican side where the race hasn’t clearly been decided yet, but that’s where we are.

According to the New York Times, a “cautious but confident” Hillary Clinton has begun the process of narrowing down her picks, starting from a list of 15 to 20 names that includes at least one woman. As Clinton adviser Anita Dunn explained, “There is some precedent for having a running mate of the same gender,” so it shouldn’t be considered at all weird to see an Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand on Clinton’s short list. Seems legit.

However, there is one name that has curiously been kept out of the veepstakes discussion, and I’m not sure why. We’ve heard vice presidential speculation about figures ranging from Tim Kaine to Julian Castro to John Hickenlooper to Deval Patrick, but we have heard no indication that Clinton may be considering Joe Biden as her running mate.

This feels, to me, like a bit of a shame.

Seriously, why not Joe? There’s no rule that puts term limits on the vice presidency, and our current vice president seems to be doing a fine job. As far as the politics are concerned, he is well-liked by the progressive base and he’s already been thoroughly vetted — to say nothing of already carrying near-universal name recognition nationally. On the policy front, he has close ties to Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle and he’s played a crucial role in high-level foreign policy negotiations during the Obama presidency.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were considering Joe Biden as a potentially serious candidate for the presidency itself. Many of his political strengths line up with Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses, which means that adding him to the ticket could help blunt them. What’s more, while he did previously rule out running for president, saying that he couldn’t give it the 110% needed in order to win, he has also said that he regrets that decision “every day.” If offered, he would definitely be up for getting back on the campaign trail. He clearly feels that he has more to offer, especially considering that he has said he plans on staying involved in the political process even if he doesn’t hold office.

Finally, and most importantly, it seems as though Biden is a one-to-one match with Clinton’s criteria for a vice presidential pick. From the Times again:

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Joe Biden, via Marc Nozell / Flickr

Mrs. Clinton has offered general guidance as her team begins the search: She cares less about ideological and personal compatibility than about picking a winner, someone who can dominate the vice-presidential debate and convince Americans that Mrs. Clinton is their best choice.

She also wants a partner who is unquestionably qualified for the presidency and would help create the strongest contrast with the Republican ticket, which could be dogged by questions about Donald J. Trump’s fitness for the presidency or Senator Ted Cruz’s unbending conservatism, according to those interviewed. And she wants someone who could be an effective attack dog against either candidate.

Joe Biden is 2-0 in vice-presidential debates, having taken both Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan to school in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Any questions about his qualifications to be president have long since been answered. What’s more, he is already serving as President Obama’s attack dog against Trump, Cruz and the GOP more generally. Hillary Clinton has cast her prospective presidency as protecting and building on President Obama’s legacy. What better way to represent that than by replacing Obama’s vice president with, well, Obama’s vice president?

None of this constitutes a full case for Biden’s third term as VP. He isn’t from a swing state; he may be too old; just because there isn’t a rule against three-term vice presidents, that doesn’t mean the voters will like the idea. Still, it’s at least a bit odd that he isn’t part of the conversation. He’s too qualified and too well-suited for the role to completely ignore.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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