Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden makes a point during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, hosted by ABC News, Apple News, and WMUR-TV at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
As I write this Joe Biden’s presidential hopes continue to spiral in the most shocking political collapse since Hillary’s epic 2016 failure. The former Vice President didn’t even bother staying in New Hampshire. Given the internal polling he surely did, he decided to make his play for South Carolina while the New Hampshire frontrunners were still giving victory speeches.
It’s not a bad call. Biden is still hugely popular among minority Democrat voters and he will likely carry a bit of Obama’s wind in his sails as his campaign (if it makes it that far) moves into Obama-land. He still garners a large share of the Black vote, which is very important as he moves into southern states. Biden is not yet counted out…but he does need a boost.
What he really needs is a surrogate…and after Tuesday night, Andrew Yang may just be his man.
Despite the ridicule Biden experiences from the right, Joe Biden still carries a lot of good will with Democrat voters. It’s not for nothing that people remember him fondly as Obama’s right-hand man. If Biden manages to pull out a decent performance in South Carolina his campaign could receive a bit of a bump. Biden’s greatest strength is his affability, his familiarity. He has the countenance of an old school politician – JFK or Bill Clinton. He has a calculated warmth that does actually read quite well in person. Biden knows how to win the old-school voters and he knows how to talk to them. He speaks in diplomatic generalities when he is in his element. When he falters is when he is asked to bring his “traditional” demeanor into the culture of 2020.
Biden needs to be free to do what he does best – press the flesh and meet and greet. A guy like Yang who is the polar opposite of Biden in personality and experience could make for an interesting contrast. It would be imperative that they spend as little time together as possible. One gets the sense that Biden doesn’t take too kindly to the “crazy kids” who want to drain the swamp, but that doesn’t matter. Obama had to bring Biden on board because he was a new candidate who needed an old, familiar voice. Biden is an old, familiar candidate who is desperate need of a new voice.
Yang has an excited base, an engaging enthusiasm and an ability to boil big ideas down to bite-sized chunks. He could bring an energy that Biden’s campaign needs. While Biden is out courting the middle, Yang could be out there courting the future of the Democrat party.
It’s certainly too early for candidates to be making official choices for nominees, but it wouldn’t hurt to start making some public overtures. Biden is down, but so far he is not out. There’s a play to be made here, but does he have the courage to think outside the box he’s been living in for 50 years?
Time will tell, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to try to harness a little excitement in what has so far been a boring redux of McCain’s miserable 2008 campaign.