William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SAY IT AIN'T SO, JOE – AT 10:01 A.M. ET:  Joe Biden is apparently serious about running for president in 2016, if he remembers to show up.  From The Politico: 

Biden, according to a number of advisers and Democrats who have spoken to him in recent months, wants to run, or at least be well positioned to run, if and when he decides to pull the trigger. Biden has expressed a clear sense of urgency, convinced the Democratic field will be defined quickly — and that it might very well come down to a private chat with Hillary Clinton about who should finish what Barack Obama started.

She may well decide not to run.  But if she decides to go, I doubt that a chat with Joe Biden will dissuade her.  Hillary would be the easy favorite for the nomination, although Obama might try to trip her up somehow.

“He’s intoxicated by the idea, and it’s impossible not to be intoxicated by the idea,” said a Democrat close to the White House. And the intoxication is hardly new. Officials working on the Obama-Biden campaign last year were struck by how the vice president always seemed to have one eye on a run, including aggressively courting the president’s donors. Obama aides at times had to actively steer Biden to places where he was needed — like Pennsylvania — because he kept asking to be deployed to Iowa, New Hampshire and other early states.

I hadn't noticed that.  It's hilarious.  "Now Joe, let me show you where you're going tomorrow..."

For Biden, though, there are negatives about 2016, and they are huge:

There are a number of reasons Biden might take a pass. To be blunt, he’s old. Biden is 70 now and would be 74 if he ran and won. He’s also old news in politics. The guy has been in Washington for almost two generations and hardly signals freshness or political vitality. He’s also run for president twice before and didn’t miss by inches either time; he bombed.

More importantly, Joe Biden is not Hillary. She is a rock star with higher favorable ratings and the capacity to clear the field if she goes all-in. She is also a she — and Democrats are eager to elect the first women after electing the first African-American.

COMMENT:  Everything rides on Hillary's decision.  Well, not everything.  Even if Hillary withdraws, will Dems want to nominate an aging, gaffe-prone candidate to run against, say, the dynamic Marco Rubio? 

If Hillary doesn't run, the Dem bench isn't very deep.  There's Biden, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.  Cuomo had a good first year in office, but he's become strident recently, and his style may not play outside New York City.  There's Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland, who acts interested.  But where's his support base?

If Hillary runs, I think, based on current conditions, that she'd have a very good chance of winning.  (What an awful prospect.)  I think the others on the Dem side would be treading uphill.

January 23, 2013