Joe Biden is the vice president of the United States. (AFRO File Photo)
The chatter among national Democrats that the vice president of the United States should run for the top spot in 2016 has reached party members in the District also.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is the subject of an official draft campaign that wants him to run for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016. Markus Batchelor, a Ward 8 advisory neighborhood commissioner and one of the District’s leading young Democrats, is a leader in the city’s effort to get the vice president to seek the nomination.
“I am a volunteer for the Draft Biden movement,” Batchelor said. “We are looking to put folks in place to get this campaign going.”
Biden has served as vice president since 2009. He represented his home state of Delaware in the United States Senate from 1973-2009 and had been re-elected six times.
While a senator, Biden chaired the influential Judiciary Committee that oversaw the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court and led the Foreign Relations Committee during the Gulf Wars in 1991 and 2002. However, his bids for president in 1988 and 2008 were unsuccessful and ended early in the process.
Biden hasn’t given a strong indication that he will run for the White House but Joshua Lopez hopes he does. “He has never run away from the Obama agenda like some Democrats who are running for president has,” Lopez said. “Joe Biden is the best person to carry on the Obama legacy. He will continue the progress that has been made the past few years.”
Batchelor said Biden can broaden the Democratic Party’s support base. “Vice President Biden understands the needs of working-class people,” he said. “And he will bring an honest perspective on the struggles of everyday people during the campaign season.”
A Biden candidacy could possibly hurt Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton because they are both moderate politicians and often fundraise from the same donor base. Batchelor said that the Democrats don’t need a coronation of a candidate but a vigorous primary season.
“If you look at 2008, Obama was helped by a tough primary battle because the Democratic Party had a full honest discussion on the issues,” he said. “Obama won the general election that year because he was tested during the primaries.”
Ronnie Edwards has been an active District Democrat for decades and he is presently the chairman of the Ward 5 Democrats. Edwards admits that his heart is with Clinton but is intrigued by a Biden candidacy. “My decision on who I support for president will depend on who President Obama backs, who the local party wants, and how members of the Ward 5 Democrats feel,” Edwards said.
Biden has been a longtime supporter of District statehood. At a Jan. 17 press conference attended by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the vice president told them “You should be a state.”
Biden said that he was speaking on behalf of himself and not the Obama administration. While Anita Bellamy Shelton admires Biden and shares his view on statehood, she doesn’t think he should run for president. “I believe at this point that his candidacy would be disruptive with Hillary in the lead,” Shelton, president of DC Women in Politics, said. “I think he is a little too late to enter the race.”
Shelton said the interest in Biden may be out of concern by some party activists that Clinton’s negatives may undo her and other Democratic prospects for winning in 2016 and covertly, female candidates for president have to possess higher ethical and moral standards than male candidates.
“Female candidates are supposed to be seen as honest and compassionate without question while male candidates can be a little less honest but they are fine,” she said. “That’s not fair but we are still dealing with a mentality in this country of a male image when it comes to running for president.”
Batchelor said that Clinton is often subject to sexism on the campaign trail and if she becomes the nominee, he would support her fully. Nevertheless, he wants the nominee to be Biden. “He has a great foreign policy thrust and he is an influential vice president who would make a good president,” he said.