Biden takes his time on presidential decision

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenAmy Poehler reveals which Dem candidates her 'Parks and Recreation' character might vote for The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE is taking his time making a decision about entering the 2020 race.

Biden, who earlier this year said he expected to make a decision on a third White House bid by the end of the year, is extending his timeline. 

During an appearance in Montana last week to promote his book, he said a decision would come in the next two months.

Compared to other prospective 2020 candidates, the former vice president has time on his side, allies say, because he has all the mechanics in place if he decides to pull the trigger and launch another White House bid.

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“He has the machinery in place in a turn-key way more than anyone else,” said one longtime ally. “He feels like he can take his time to make a decision as the one truly established person running.”

“And mechanically, he can afford to wait,” the ally added. “Politically, it might be best to wait.”  

Waiting would keep Biden above the fray, even as the former vice president continues to top a number of 2020 polls.

“A lot of folks are willing to give him time to decide,” said one Biden associate who is familiar with the mechanics of what a run might look like. “I don’t think anyone is overly worried about the timeline.” 

Biden allies say there are a couple of things the former vice president must consider before entering a primary fight, including the mood of his family. Biden decided against a run in 2016 as his family reeled from the loss of Biden’s son Beau Biden, who died in 2015 of brain cancer.  

“That’s always the big question mark,” one ally said. “Where’s the family on this?”  

On the heels of his son’s death, Biden wrestled with whether to enter the 2016 presidential race. As he talked to donors, he quickly learned that many of them were already backing former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic Socialists of America endorses Sanders for president How to end the Electoral College and elect our next president by popular vote CNN town halls put network at center of Dem primary MORE.

Waiting may not be entirely helpful to Biden.

While it’s still early in the cycle, some major bundlers and donors to the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012 have expressed frustration that Biden has yet to reach out to begin building a campaign infrastructure. 

“If he has good campaign DNA, they’d be calling up their best bundlers over the last year and keeping them happy,” said one major Obama fundraiser. “At best they come on board early, at worst they give them pause to jump on another campaign. 

“It’s just so sad, as he could have had the inside track with money now if he had done it differently. Now he’s got no advantage over other candidates with major-dollar donors.”

One caveat that could speed up his decision, sources say, is if another candidate emerges, catches fire and attracts establishment money. 

Sources pointed to Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) as someone who could pose a challenge to Biden.

A poll from the progressive group MoveOn.org that was released on Tuesday and obtained by NBC News showed O’Rourke edging out Biden and winning support from 15.6 percent of respondents, compared to 14.9 percent for Biden. 

A Biden spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.  

While Biden hasn’t made a decision about the 2020 race, he is sounding increasingly like a presidential candidate. In Montana, Biden said he was “the most qualified person in the country to be president.” 

“I’ve been doing this my whole adult life, and the issues that are the most consequential relating to the plight of the middle class and our foreign policy are things that I have — even my critics would acknowledge, I may not be right, but I know a great deal about it,” he said, according to CNN.

While Biden may not be in any hurry to announce a decision, political observers say that may be a mistake. 

“He needs to look decisive and determined and confident and if he does, he’s a major player in the race,” said Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

“In a field like this, I don’t think you can wait to see who emerges, you’re going to have to fight for it,” Jillson added.