- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Of all the Democrats riding high after last week’s election, perhaps nobody got more of a boost than former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who seemed to do everything just right.

He campaigned for successful gubernatorial tickets in Virginia and New Jersey, cut an ad for a Democrat who went on to become the first female to get elected mayor in New Hampshire’s biggest city and drew national headlines after the election with his phone call to congratulate the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature.

The timing couldn’t be better as he prepares to kick off a book tour this week, just as Democrats think about whom they want to ride into the 2020 presidential election.

“He’s hot right now,” said Jonathan Zogby of Zogby Analytics. “He is having a kind of moment.”

Mr. Zogby released a poll last week that showed Mr. Biden and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont defeating President Trump in a head-to-head matchup. But while the former vice president polled well among the Obama coalition of women, young voters and minorities, he also did well with the working-class voters who helped push Mr. Trump to victory last year.

All of that leaves him perfectly positioned as the heir, for now, to the best of the Obama years while looking like he can build his own coalition.

“He is part of the establishment, but he also has progressive leaning,” Mr. Zogby said of Mr. Biden. “So I think he can get young voters excited, he can get women excited, he can get minorities excited. He sort of represents a bridge between the old guard and the new guard.”

Mr. Biden, 74, plans to spend the next two months traveling the country to promote his latest book, titled “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” which chronicles a year in which his son Beau, a former attorney general of Delaware, was battling a malignant brain tumor that would eventually take his life — all while Mr. Biden balanced the responsibilities of the vice presidency and the buzz around his political future.

Mr. Biden, who served 36 years in the U.S. Senate before becoming Barack Obama’s running mate, has said his decision not to run was the correct one for his family, but, in recent interviews, he has said he regrets that he did not become president.

Media outlets are lapping up Mr. Biden’s return to the fray.

The “Today Show” on NBC Monday is devoted to Mr. Biden, who also plans to appear the same day on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert.

He has already appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where the host went gaga over the prospect of a Biden comeback, and he taped a segment with Oprah Winfrey that aired over the weekend as part of her “SuperSoul Sunday,” where he was pressed on whether he would run in 2020.

“I’m, as I said, a great respecter of fate,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m over 70, I’m — thank God — right now in awful good health. But I don’t know … what things are going to be two years from now. So I just don’t know. I promise you: I’m not doing anything to organize running, but I’m going to go out there and continue to do what I’ve done since I’ve been 26 years old: holler.”

His election activities suggest his hollering is in demand.

He appeared in a digital ad for Joyce Craig after her campaign learned that he was interested in helping.

He called up and offered assistance to Democrat Ralph Northam, who campaigned with Mr. Biden during the final weeks of his successful gubernatorial bid. And he brought Danica Roem to tears after calling her up to congratulate her on getting elected as the first transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Mr. Biden also headlined a Democratic dinner in New Hampshire this year and has kept activists informed of his activity and whereabouts in regular email blasts.

“He is doing everything a candidate would do at this point in time,” said Jim Demers, a veteran New Hampshire-based Democratic consultant. “I just get the feeling that he may very well make the run.”

“My gut says he will,” he said.

Mr. Demers said the challenge facing Mr. Biden is whether he could appeal to activists and donors who are looking for a new generation of leaders after the primary debacle last year that created fissures in the party.

The 2020 field is in its early stages of forming.

Rep. John K. Delaney of Maryland was the first to make the splash, announcing he was running in an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post over the summer.

There is a sense that others will start to signal their intentions next year and that the election in Virginia, where Democrats swept the statewide races and outperformed all expectations in statehouse races, could speed up the decision-making process.

Analysts say size of the field could be in the double digits and feature a mix of old and new — possibly pitting Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders and other baby boomers, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — against some of the party’s rising stars. That group could include Sens. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey, Kamala D. Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Activists in Iowa say there has been some behind-the-scenes movement, with some of the players signaling an affinity for Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris, while others hope Mr. Sanders runs again and Ms. Warren gets in.

If he runs, Mr. Biden would start from a strong position, but it is uncertain whether he would be the candidate to beat.

“I think Joe would do well, but I don’t think he would actually win Iowa,” said Bret Nilles, chair of the Linn County Democrats in Iowa, which hosts the caucuses that kick off the nomination race.

Mr. Nilles said there is still a deep reservoir of support for Mr. Sanders and he expects a strong following for Ms. Warren.

Linda Nelson, chair of the Pottawattamie County Democrats in Iowa, said she believes there would be “tremendous interest” in a Biden bid.

“Here, as well as in New Hampshire, we frequently had these folks in our community, so we feel like it is Uncle Joe,” said Ms. Nelson. “Everyone loves Joe Biden, so it is kind of wait and see.”

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