WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Joe Biden is almost totally prepared to announce his bid for the White House, according to media reports. There’s just one big thing keeping him from pulling the trigger: concerns that President Donald Trump will play too rough during the general campaign.
Biden’s chief strategist, Steve Ricchetti, is signaling that the Delaware Democrat is about 95 percent committed to running, officials connected to the former vice president told The News York Times Thursday. There are several issues tossing a monkey wrench into Biden’s plans, however, chief among them is concern that Trump will exploit his personal life.
“I don’t think he’s likely to stop at anything, whomever he runs against,” Biden told TheNYT on Feb. 26, referring to the president’s street brawling style of campaigning. He is worried about putting his “family through what would be a very, very, very difficult campaign.” Biden believes Trump might try to exploit his tumultuous private life — his son’s checkered romantic history could be the chief reason.
Operatives worry Hunter Biden, the former VP’s 49-year-old son, would inevitably become an ongoing issue if Biden were to join an increasingly crowded presidential race. Hunter’s romantic relationship with his brother’s widow created headlines throughout the past several years, though most of the reports went under the radar during Biden’s tenure in the Obama administration.
Biden’s other son, Beau, died of brain cancer in May 2015. Hunter, who was married at the time, became involved shortly thereafter with his older brother’s widow, Hallie. Hunter’s wife later claimed in divorce papers that her husband wasted money on prostitutes, strip clubs, and drugs, among other vices. Biden also worries jumping into the race would be a fool’s errand.
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“What I don’t want to do is take people’s time, effort and commitment without there being a clear shot that I could be the nominee,” he said at a Feb. 28 event in Delaware. Democrats are meanwhile getting impatient waiting for the 76-year-old politician to make his decision.
He extended an end-of-2018 timeline into January and then into March. Biden is enjoying wide support from the Democratic base, perhaps as a result of his connection with former President Barack Obama. “People underestimate the intensity of his support and how broad it is,” John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster, said in an interview with the NYT.
Biden still has the support of black people (70 percent), white people without a college education (71 percent), and white people with a college education (83 percent), according to an NPR poll in January. His numbers are sky-high compared to Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California.
Results from the NPR poll come off the heels of a Morning Consult poll in December 2018 showing Biden leading the pack of prospective Democratic nominees in 2020. Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders followed a close second in the poll, drawing 19 percent among Democrats.