- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2015

Should he decide to seek the White House in 2016, Vice President Joseph R. Biden made clear Thursday that he’ll cling to President Obama’s record, particularly on the economy.

In a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Mr. Biden indicated that the centerpiece to his would-be presidential campaign will be this administration’s domestic accomplishments, and he singled out the White House’s $800 billion stimulus package — passed in the early days of Mr. Obama’s and Mr. Biden’s tenure, at a time when the economy was in chaos — as proof he’s capable of handling massive federal programs efficiently.

Mr. Biden not only defended the stimulus package itself but also gave himself credit for single-handedly administering the program and went so far as to call it the most “competently run program” in American history.

“The whole recovery act cost more than $800 billion. We were vilified for it, all the waste and fraud it was going to cause. Outside groups, including the Congressional Budget Office, analyzed that there is less than .02 percent waste or fraud in my administering that act,” the vice president. “There was none. It was the most competently run program in the history of the United States with the amount of money involved — and it mattered.”

Despite Mr. Biden’s comments, there were notable losses of taxpayer money during the rollout of the stimulus package. Taxpayers lost more than $500 million, for example, when solar-power company Solyndra went bankrupt and was unable to repay federal loans.

As for his presidential bid, Mr. Biden has said that while he’s confident he could run an effective campaign, he isn’t sure he has the emotional energy or will to run following the death of his son, Beau, earlier this year.

Polling consistently has shown Mr. Biden third among Democratic voters, behind party front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Given his unbreakable ties to this administration, political analysts say Mr. Biden is wise to tout Mr. Obama’s record.

“Number one, it’s a defensible tack for laying the groundwork [for a presidential run]. It’s a set of positions he can embrace and defend with political success. And the other thing is, he’s a true believer. In that sense, it’s easy for him” to cling to the administration’s actions, said Bruce Buchanan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in the presidency and presidential elections. “I believe people like Biden would look at it as a smart move to stick with Obama now.”

But even White House officials acknowledge that most American voters aren’t looking for a third Obama term. Asked Thursday about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent break with the administration on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president believes his successor must simply share the same core Democratic values, not represent a continuation of this White House on every single issue.

“Nobody is going to succeed in running for someone else’s third term, no matter how successful the first two terms have been,” Mr. Earnest told reporters Thursday. “So the president does understand that there are going to be differences, and he’s not particularly concerned about that, because his principal concern when it comes to politics is making sure that he’s succeeded by a president that shares his values and is committed to building on the important success that we’ve made so far.”

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