WASHINGTON — As donors expressed hope over the weekend that Vice President Joe Biden could still jump into the presidential race, particularly if front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign is felled by scandal, political watchers wondered: can Joe give it a go?
“There is a definitive answer to that, and it is ‘No,’ ” said Steve Schale, a Florida-based Democratic strategist and former advisor to the Draft Biden super PAC.
An email circulated by prominent Democratic donor Bill Bartmann Friday urged dozens of former Biden supporters to stand ready to back a potential last-minute bid by the vice president, citing Clinton’s waning lead in national polls to a challenger who self-describes as a Democratic socialist.
“We cannot afford to lose the White House,” Bartmann wrote in the email, first obtained by Reuters.
But while the email received a few positive responses, Democrats — including Biden backers — said nothing has changed since Biden’s own determination in October that time had simply run out to run an effective campaign.
“The vice president has closed the door,” Schale said. “And even if he were to call us up and say, ‘Hey, let’s do this,’ there is really not enough time.”
Others downplayed the notion that most Democrats are wringing their hands at the potential that the FBI probe into Clinton’s email server will result in criminal charges.
“I try to deal in facts and reality,” said Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh.
Clinton is enjoying a boomlet in support in early primary states. Her win in the Iowa caucuses, even if by a slim margin, appears to be helping her close the polling gap ahead of tomorrow’s New Hampshire primary. Sanders’ once-sizable lead in Granite State polls has dropped to single digits in several recent surveys, including yesterday’s Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll that put Clinton just 7 points behind Sanders.
Moreover, Biden backers’ wishing for a Hail Mary campaign “doesn’t change the calendar,” Marsh said.
If Biden were to reverse course and launch a bid today, he’ll also face a nearly impossible election calendar, strategists said. The earliest race he’ll be able to qualify for would be the March 1 caucuses in America Samoa — not the crucial Super Tuesday primaries that take place on the same day.
In all, Biden could only attempt to vie for about a third of available Democratic delegates. Because most states divide delegates proportionally, he can only win a fraction of the required delegates for the nomination.
Even if Biden were to storm into the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer, his chances are slim. Such a far-fetched scenario only comes into play if there is a tie.
“Someone will have a majority,” Schale said.
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