Skip to comments.Delaware Sen. Biden still mulls presidential bid (Another loser may join the bunch!)
Posted on 06/17/2003 6:51:36 AM PDT by areafiftyone
WASHINGTON - Delaware's senior U.S. senator plans to stay on schedule and not decide until the fall whether to launch a second presidential campaign.
But could waiting that long doom his candidacy?
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., said he has not been swayed to speed up his timetable even though the current field of Democratic hopefuls has grown to at least seven and supporters have urged him to run.
When discussing a possible bid, Sen. Biden has said a factor would be whether any of the Democratic candidates has "caught fire" with voters.
So far, none of the Democratic candidates seems to have "caught fire" and distanced themselves from the field.
Sen. Biden, at an event in Smyrna last week, said it is too early to write off any of the Democratic candi-dates.
He also said he is enjoying his role as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which often includes being the lead opponent of President Bush on foreign-policy matters.
"It is hard to be a full-time candidate and be fully engaged on issues in the Senate," he said.
"There are a lot of issues that I am very involved in."
Larry J. Sabato, an expert on national politics who directs the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, predicted that Sen. Biden has delayed his decision too long.
"Every four years, there is always someone who thinks they can step in at the last minute, avoid all the drudgery of campaigning and be handed the nomination," Dr. Sabato said.
"It is not going to happen."
Sen. Biden likes to note that former President Clinton did not kick off his campaign until 13 months be-fore the 1992 general election.
The 2004 primaries will be more bunched together than the 1992 contests, which can increase the cam-paign's cost and add extra emphasis to early victors who can gain momentum and quickly win the nomina-tion.
Dr. Sabato said the opportunity for Sen. Biden to declare his candidacy and have a chance to be suc-cessful has passed.
"It is way too late," he explained.
"He must be listening to the usual voices that, at this point in a presidential campaign, start saying, 'We need other choices.'
"It happens at this time every four years for the out-of-power party. There are plenty of choices for Demo-crats out there."
Sen. Biden brushes off comments from pundits such as Dr. Sabato.
Earlier this year, he said that ignoring his instincts and making decisions based on others' advice caused problems in his 1988 bid.
"A lot of people are saying it is too late, and if that is the case, so be it," Sen. Biden said.
"I am going to make this decision on my own schedule. There is a lot of time left before the election."
The tight primary schedule places a premium on candidates having large bank accounts because there is little time between elections to raise money.
Sen. Biden said he has money left from his Senate re-election campaign that can be used to start his presidential fund-raising efforts.
Waiting until September or later, Dr. Sabato said, will cause Sen. Biden problems in areas besides fund raising.
"It is not just about the money," Dr. Sabato said.
"Biden can raise money, though probably not enough. It is about the key staffers and activists.
"They have already signed on and made their commitments. They are not going to call their candidates and say, 'Joe Biden jumped in, and now, I am going to back out of our deal.' That will not happen."
Though Sen. Biden maintains that he has not made up his mind, he mentions his failed 1988 campaign during public appearances.
"I tried something just as hard as going to space - I ran for president once," he quipped during the opening of an aerospace education center in Smyrna last week.