Former US vice president Joe Biden is in the final stages of deciding whether to launch a bid for the presidency and will likely make his decision by the end of the month, The New York Times reported late Sunday.
Biden has reportedly told confidants that he is skeptical that any of the other Democrat candidates who are lining up for the 2020 elections can defeat US President Donald Trump.
According to the report, Biden, 76, spent the holidays consulting with friends and donors.
“If you can persuade me there is somebody better who can win, I’m happy not to do it,” he said, according to a Democrat privy to the conversation, the Times said, adding that the source shared the information on condition of anonymity.
Biden has said similar things in public before, but this time reportedly told the unnamed Democrat: “But I don’t see the candidate who can clearly do what has to be done to win.”
Biden would likely become a front-runner should he enter the race.
“He has the best chance of beating Trump, hands down,” US Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, Biden’s longtime friend and former colleague, told the Times. “On a scale of 1 to 10, that’s probably about a 12 for us.”
The moves cap what has been an extraordinarily busy year for Biden. He maintained a packed campaign schedule stumping for Democrats ahead of the midterms, including stops for candidates in the early presidential contest states of Iowa and South Carolina. In all, Biden visited 31 states last year, including trips intended to promote a book about his late son.
Biden has done little to dissuade speculation that he’d run for president a third time. Since the midterms, he has held calls and met privately with longtime supporters about what a presidential campaign could look like, according to aides. He declared himself “the most qualified person in the country to be president” during an appearance last month in Montana. At a later event in Vermont, he recalled concerns from his dying son, Beau, that “I’d turn inward, that I’d withdraw from public life.”
The reflection ahead for Biden comes at a time when the Democratic presidential field is in flux. As many as two dozen potential candidates could announce intentions to run for president by early in the year. Many of those potential contenders are fresh faces in a party eager to move on from its disastrous performance in 2016. Many donors and activists are awaiting his decision before declaring allegiance to a candidate.
But many Democrats believe that a white moderate in his mid-seventies does not represent the future of the party and would like to see a more progressive candidate, preferably a woman or a person of color.
“In 2020, Biden-style centrism will become a toxic and losing brand of politics in Democratic primaries,” said Waleed Shahid, a left-wing activist.
While several candidates are considering joining the race, the early contender is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren who has already announced she is setting up an exploratory committee and started campaigning in Iowa.
On her first full day of campaigning Saturday in the kickoff caucus state, Warren was touting a message likely to be similar to Biden’s appeal to blue-collar workers.
Warren said her mother’s minimum-wage job saved her family when Warren was a child, and enabled Warren’s career as a teacher, professor and now senator considering a presidential run.
She is introducing herself to influential Iowa Democrats by telling her personal story of economic opportunity, trying to lay claim in the emerging 2020 presidential field as a champion for a middle class she says is withering under Trump.
“Today a minimum wage job in America full time will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty,” Warren said at a rally in Sioux City. “And it is wrong, and that’s why I’m in this fight.”
A leading Democrat in the Senate, Warren has made a name for herself as an advocate for consumer protection and become a regular target of Trump. But her Iowa debut, beginning Friday evening and continuing across the state Saturday, offered the first glimpse of what she may look like as a 2020 candidate.