Shortly after Joe Biden boarded a recent flight from Washington to New York, a string of passengers began stopping at his seat in coach to deliver some version of the same message: Run, Joe, run. “We’re with you,” one said, according to a Democratic strategist who happened to be on the plane and witnessed the scene. “You’ve got to do this,” said another.
Biden himself is more conflicted — but he is listening keenly to the supporters pushing him to run for the White House in 2020. Biden is convinced he can beat President Donald Trump, friends and advisers say, and he has given himself until January to deliberate and size up potential competition for the Democratic nomination, according to people who have spoken to the former vice president about his decision-making.
In the meantime, Biden diligently maintains a network of supporters in key states, a group 30 years in the making, while some of those competitors are still making introductions.
As he makes each careful step, Biden faces the same dilemma. For an elder statesman in a leaderless party, one who long envisioned himself in the top job, the pull toward another presidential bid is strong. But the 75-year-old former vice president must weigh the realities of jumping into a crowded primary full of up-and-comers eager to debate the future of the party.
“He is not someone who needs to run to cement his place in history. He’s not someone who needs to run to feel he’s making a significant contribution to the public discourse and the Democratic Party,” said Anita Dunn, a former adviser to President Barack Obama. “But he is someone who, at the end of the day, feels a great deal of responsibility to listen to those people who are urging him to run.”