Joe Biden’s return to this early primary state of New Hampshire already has Democrats buzzing: Does he have one more race left in him?
The former vice president is slated to speak at the famous McIntyre-Shaheen dinner Sunday night, in a state that the 74-year-old has come to know well through two unsuccessful presidential campaigns of his own and two more as a running mate.
Biden has hardly shied away from the public spotlight since leaving office over three months ago, after having spent eight years as Obama’s deputy and 36 years as a US senator from Delaware prior to that. And he’s done little in the last 100 days to persuade his supporters that he has completely shut the door to a 2020 presidential run.
“I think I could’ve won,” Biden said last month. “Do I regret not being president? Yes.”
In a visit to his old stomping grounds on Capitol Hill in December, Biden was happy to oblige inquiring reporters.
“Yeah, I am. I’m going to run in 2020,” Biden said when CNN jokingly asked if he planned to run for office again. Pressed on what office he would run for, he responded: “For president. What the hell, man.”
Biden concluded in the lead-up to the 2016 election that he would not run for president for a third time. It was a decision shaped by a devastating personal loss. His son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden — whom Biden has referred to as “his soul” — died in 2015 from brain cancer.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would go on to win the Democratic Party’s nomination. But to the great shock of the political world, she was defeated by Donald Trump on Election Day.
With Trump’s approval rating at a historic low for a new president and the first months of his presidency mired in controversies, Democrats are determined to take back the White House in 2020. If there is a desire for a bench filled with younger up-and-comers, Biden’s name somehow continues to make the rounds.
Biden’s longtime friend and adviser Ted Kaufman said it would be a while before Biden feels the need to make any kind of decision about 2020.
“That’s a long way off. It’ll be a long time before he’ll have to think about that. And a lot will depend on where he is, where the country is, where the party is,” Kaufman, who was appointed to Biden’s Senate seat after his resigned to become vice president, told CNN. “Who knows where this presidency’s going to be after 100 days? It’s pretty daunting to predict where we’ll be 100 days from now, let alone a year from now.”
In February, Biden and his wife, Jill, launched the Biden Foundation, which focuses on a range of issues including cancer research. He is splitting his time between the nation’s capital, Delaware and Pennsylvania, working with separate institutes bearing his name at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware,
“He’s really been frankly just as busy as he was when he was in the White House,” Kaufman said. “He’s a happy warrior.”
One Biden adviser cautioned that his appearance in New Hampshire on Sunday was entirely about his promise to stay involved with the Democratic Party rather than his own political future.
“He said when he left office he was committed to continuing to party build, staying involved in the Democratic party, and this is that,” the adviser said.
But some of Biden’s most ardent political supporters are holding out hope.
Steve Schale, a veteran Democratic strategist based in Florida who was a part of the Draft Biden 2016 effort, believes to this day that Biden could have won if he had jumped into the 2016 race.
“I can make a really compelling argument for why I think after four years of Donald Trump, a guy like Joe Biden will be exactly what the country wants,” Schale said. “If he wants to do it in a couple of years — sign me up!”