The New York Times compared Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden’s 2020 bid to Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential bid, pointing out the similarities of two older white establishment candidates who are poised to generate significant backlash among a restive base.
“He doesn’t talk about shattering glass ceilings,” wrote Times reporter Lisa Lerer. “Pantsuits aren’t really his style. And no one is talking much about his spouse. Even so, the opening days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s third presidential campaign are giving some Democrats flashbacks to another presidential front-runner: Hillary Clinton. Mr. Biden’s first fund-raiser? Hosted by a Philadelphia-area donor who did the same for Mrs. Clinton four years ago. His early policies? Embraced by Democrats, including Mrs. Clinton, for years. A decades-long record in Washington? Mrs. Clinton had a similarly lengthy résumé. And a tortured, drawn-out apology as the first controversy of his campaign? Remember her private email account, former Clinton aides shudder.”
Lerer writes that Biden’s position as immediate frontrunner in a crowded field could alienate the grassroots liberal activists who felt disenfranchised in 2016.
“As he ramps up his presidential campaign, Mr. Biden appears to have taken some lessons from Mrs. Clinton’s defeat — but paid no heed to others. Even as he structures his campaign around an implicit critique of her general election effort, offering a full-throated appeal to working-class voters at his opening event in a Pittsburgh union hall, Mr. Biden has embraced the kind of incumbent-like, establishment campaign that left Mrs. Clinton open to a fierce primary challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders.”
Ironically, though, Lerer posits that the divisive identity politics from the Left could undo Biden’s chances because he is a man and Clinton is a woman.
“Like her, he touts his decades of government experience, intimate knowledge of world leaders and close relationship with former President Barack Obama,” Lerer writes. “But unlike Mrs. Clinton, who faced attacks from just one opponent, Mr. Biden is running against a historically large and diverse field of candidates, some of whom have already spent months scrutinizing parts of his long political record.
“It’s a very different moment,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, a progressive civil rights advocacy group that has consulted with 2020 candidates. ‘At the end of the day, Hillary was a historic figure, and Biden will have to explain, in a moment when there are many historic figures running, why him?’”