Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just had her best week in October. After a big win in the first Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, Secretary Clinton lost two contenders and one potential rival in the race for the party’s presidential nomination. During the Benghazi hearing, Mrs. Clinton responded to harsh questions without obvious fumbles, which was another boost to her race. So does that mean she is the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee?
On Oct 21, Vice-President Joseph Biden announced, in the Rose Garden of the White House, that he would not run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, which cleared the way for Secretary Clinton’s clinch on the nominee’s position.
Actually, until the first Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, the rumor was loud that the VP would join the race soon. During the past two months, Mrs. Clinton has experienced her worst period since she announced her candidacy. The email issue was getting wide attention, and the public was again questioning her integrity and leadership. The State Department released her emails from time to time, adding fuel to the fire when more sensitive or even confidential material was found on her private servers. Mrs. Clinton’s approval rate dropped drastically in the two months, about 20 percent in the Democratic Party. This immediately caused a panic within the party, and some people from the establishment began to call on Biden to join the race in case Clinton had to drop out one day.
For Biden to join the race at the age of 72 was not at all out of question. He has contended for the Democratic presidential nominee since the last century. To say that he does not want to be the President or he is not so ambitious as before is just not true. As one political analyst pointed out rightly, this might really be the last chance for Biden to run, suggesting he would not forgive himself for not doing so in the rest of his life. On the one hand, Biden is the legitimate and right heir of President Obama’s legacy, not to mention that legacy, from ObamaCare to opening the door to gay marriage, was achieved with his help. Biden himself enjoyed a quite high job-approval nationally. Even he did not announce his candidacy, he ranked second only after Clinton among the potential Democratic nominees.
However, as a career politician, Biden had to face the political reality in the pre-primary season that Clinton seems to be unstoppable within the party.
First, only about three months remain before the nation’s first caucus in Iowa, but Biden’s campaign has not started yet. This means that he did not organize his campaign machine and make contact with big donors at all. Compared with Clinton, who has been preparing for her campaign since she left the State Department in 2012, Biden was left far behind. He could not compete even with the so-called socialist candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, in raising money. According to the newly released fundraising data on October 15, Clinton ranked first with $29.4 million, and Senator Sanders followed with $26.2 million. What’s most remarkable is that while Clinton raised her money mostly from big donors, Senator Sanders’ fund was largely small donations; Biden could never compete with either.
Second, it is never easy to set up a campaign organization. Biden has been a popular and well-known politician for several decades, and has many friends and supporters within the Democratic Party. However, he does not have a network of supporters at the state and local levels as Clinton does, which is critical to a successful presidential campaign. It is such grassroots organizations that market a candidate and mobilize people to vote for him or her. Even though Biden’s enthusiastic supporters built a web site called “DraftBiden.com”, trying to attract donations for him, that was far from enough. Meanwhile, as Vice President, Biden still has very important executive responsibility to fulfill. When there were high expectations that he would join the race, Biden was still busy receiving distinguished guests like Pope Francis and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Last but not the least, the decisive factor that forced Biden to quit the race was strong opposition within the Democratic Party leadership. Because of long-time engagement and involvement in the party, the Clintons enjoy strong support from the establishment. So far, more than half of the incumbent Senators and Congressmen have endorsed Clinton’s candidacy, and the super delegates who supported her publicly numbered more than 700, which made her successful bid for the nominee more likely. It is not to say that Biden does not have supporters in the higher level of the party, but to compete with Clinton is just not easy. In such a case, unless the email issue led to an indictment or her health has serious problems, Clinton is unstoppable.
Therefore，it is quite wise for Biden not to run for president, because it will spare him from the awkwardness of losing in the election, but also preserve his integrity for keeping the party’s core united. Meanwhile, after former Senator Jim Webb and former Governor Lincoln Chafee withdrew from the race, Clinton will face no mainstream challenges from within the Democratic Party, and her road towards the White House seems to have been made even clearer.