Biden Announces 2020 Run

Evan Farley, ‘20

Former Vice-President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. announced his third run for the Presidency of the United States on the 25th of April. There has long been speculation that the long-time pol would throw his hat in the very crowded ring of Democrats vying for their party’s nomination to face President Trump in the general election in November 2020. Although young folk might remember the former Senator of Delaware for his bromance with his boss as President Barack Obama’s Vice President, Biden first assumed elected office in 1973 and gained prominence during his decades in Washington as a charismatic, old-school politician.

His hands-on nature served him well during much of his tenure, but in an era where traditional power dynamics are under scrutiny, Biden’s intimate personality could not escape. A White House intern named Vail Kohnert-Yount, for example, complained in 2013 that then Vice President Biden had embraced her in an uncomfortably long and close hug during a meet and greet. While not considered a sexual assault, the intern felt as if her boss had crossed a boundary. This is one of seven similar allegations made against the now candidate.

After days of silence relating to the accusations, Biden released a video with his side of the story. The camera zoomed in on him alone, as if he were talking to the American people directly in a familiar and cozy manner, as if saying that this was his style and there was no changing. The videography matched his dialogue as he asserted it was not his intention for any awkward interactions but that was just how he did politics. Many thought of this to be a less than adequate response to the charges, particularly as the Democrats gear up to fight the admitted sexual harasser in the Oval Office, but the news cycle quickly moved on.

After Biden official launched his campaign, he was hit with another issue:  Anger over his handling of the Anita Hill hearings. Biden, as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, oversaw confirmation hearings for President George H. W. Bush’s Supreme Court pick, Clarence Thomas. Hill had accused Thomas of sexually harassing her and testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but as with Biden’s extended hug with the intern, it was not perceived as a disqualifying factor for Thomas’s nomination and Biden pushed the confirmation through.

After announcing his candidacy, Biden contacted Hill to express regret for his handling of the matter, but Hill says it fell short of a true apology.

Despite these challenges, Biden is still viewed as the Democratic candidate with the most “electability”, a phrase pundits like to use despite mixed views on what makes a contender actually electable. As an octogenarian relative of this article’s author said during a conversation about Biden’s announcement, what mattered most to her was name recognition. The long time Democrat pledged only to vote for a household name when the primary came to her native state of North Carolina over a bunch of the “young nobodies.” It was her firm belief that this was the only way to beat Trump, and she is likely not alone in this judgement.

Only time will tell the impact of Biden’s touchy history of handling constituents and underlings, but until then, he continues to lead the pack of 20 candidates, fighting for a chance to return to the White House, this time as the Chief Executive.