The Spectator’s View: Does Joe Biden have the discipline to take on Trump?

The inevitable US Presidential rumours continue to swirl around Vice President Biden – a conversation with Mr Biden that graced Huffington Post a week ago got the ball rolling. So just imagine what an interview with Mr Gingrich must have been like last Thursday, when the former House Speaker dished the dirt on Mr Biden’s double-mindedness, the veep’s track record, his enthusiasm to join Twitter, and more.

Reaction on social media and in the news was mixed: Many were convinced that he may be about to take on Mr Trump; others thought he may well go through with it if things continue to go his way. However, what struck a chord with a fair few was the comment on whether Mr Biden could withstand the Presidential run. In a classic case of a field witnessing a white wash (again), one commentator put it even more crudely: “I think Obama is watching this and rethinking his choice to pardon Joe Biden this morning.”

It also generated much comment on the likelihood of a surprise running mate, particularly for the Democrats – many were pushing Mr 2020 candidate Joe Biden, or for the Republicans: Joe the Lying Willi r Palin. Or even Mike Pence (himself a former Governor of Indiana, and his nickname is “the Magic Man”). While some folks feared that a running mate would inflate the running mate’s status – a relatively new term – as head of the ticket, others were interested to see whether Mr Trump would back it or not. Mr Palin was the second most discussed name, based on responses to the HuffPo poll; while Obama or Hillary Clinton were up at #3. Some respondents even picked an already-running US Presidential candidate, Arizona Representative Kyrsten Sinema; though the latter is unlikely, she was even more popular than Mr Biden.

As for the poll itself, the results indicate that Mr Biden might well be able to hold his own against the likely Republican candidates: Donald Trump, Cruz and Huckabee all got well under 50% support. His greatest challenge could be himself – Mr Biden still has a substantial voting base, although at the current rate of progress, Mr Biden would need to do something startlingly extraordinary to turn the electoral tide. Mr Trump leads the Republican field with 31% of the vote, while the Republican frontrunner in the Democratic race, Mr Sanders, is on 29%, trailed closely by Senator Booker on 23%.

As if that’s not enough, Mr Gingrich himself was so impressed with Mr Biden’s “discipline” that it was not long before he was rumoured to be contemplating a return to US politics. Mr Gingrich’s image and PR director at Fox News responded to the suggestion: “Newt Gingrich said it best himself: ‘If he ran, if he wanted to run, he’d beat Hillary Clinton.’” Indeed, it has been some time since the latter saw the inside of the White House.

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