Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE is back. Not the real-life former vice president, who is busy campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, but his fictional counterpart, busting bad guys and fighting crime alongside former President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election MORE in a new novel.
The aviator-sporting Biden stars in “Hope Rides Again,” a mystery out this week by author Andrew Shaffer that imagines him and Obama as a crime-fighting duo. It’s a sequel to Shaffer’s 2018 New York Times bestseller “Hope Never Dies.”
“The plot begins this year on St. Patrick’s Day, and Joe Biden is racing to get to an economic summit that Obama has set up. But Joe’s actually on the way there, not to meet Barack Obama, but he’s there to meet an activist who he thinks may be able to provide some help on his 2020 campaign if he decides to run,” says Shaffer. “It sort of dovetails really nicely into what happened in real life with Joe.”
After Obama’s BlackBerry goes missing, the bromantic political pair must team up to catch the culprit — and unravel a perplexing puzzle in the process.
While Shaffer says his first buddy cop-inspired book was “definitely an escape” from politics for readers because it was published after both his protagonists were out of office, this time around, the political side was tough to avoid.
“It was really difficult to not see that there was going to have to be some mention of Joe deciding whether to get into the race or not,” he says.
But what you won’t find in “Hope Rides Again,” Shaffer says, is any reference to the current commander in chief. “I don’t mention Trump in the story. I think that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE still takes up an enormous amount of real estate — no pun intended — online and in people’s daily lives.”
Shaffer, 40, says although the book is political fan fiction, he had to play the part of 2020 clairvoyant for several parts.
A recurring bit in the book finds Obama telling Biden that he can’t endorse any potential presidential campaign.
“Obama keeps saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to come out and support you if you do this, but I’m behind you,’ ” says Shaffer. “Joe’s kind of hurt by it, but he understands it.”
In real life, Obama has not endorsed Biden’s 2020 bid, choosing to stay out of the primary process for now.
The Kentucky-based writer says Biden could actually pick up his books for some predictions about future political battles.
“In my first book, I have a scene where Joe Biden and Barack Obama are talking about Joe’s days in the Senate and Joe refers to [former Sen.] Strom Thurmond as his ‘good friend who’s a segregationist.’ And Obama goes, ‘You mean racist, Joe.’ ”
Obama then instructs Biden, “Don’t use ‘segregationist,’ say ‘racist.’ ”
Biden, 76, apologized last week for recent remarks he made about his ability to work with segregationists while he was a senator.
“I’m like, if Joe had read my book, maybe he’d have seen it from another angle,” says Shaffer.
In Shaffer’s latest, the first move Biden does as he mulls a 2020 run is “he hires a fist bump coach so that he can interact with people a little bit less awkwardly in the future.”
“That was a scene that I wrote before some of the stuff came out about him hugging his supporters,” explains Shaffer. Earlier this year, multiple women spoke out saying that interactions with Biden had made them uncomfortable. Biden said in April that it was “never [his] intention” to touch anyone in a way that made them feel uneasy. “So I think it’s not a bad thing if he reads the books and picks up a few pointers,” says Shaffer.
And, Shaffer quips, if the Biden camp is searching for a catchphrase to plaster on campaign bumper stickers, look no further than his book titles. “’Hope Rides Again’ and ‘Hope Never Dies’ — these are good campaign slogans!”
The book, Shaffer says, is a “nostalgia ride into the past.” The author says he’s also hoping that readers finish the book with a sense of optimism: “Just because the ride is bumpy doesn’t mean that hope is dead in this country.”