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#PolitickerOne checks the status of Vice President Joe Biden’s Black card as buzz about a potential presidential bid picks up steam.
Biden and his associates “have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign,” she says. The vice president’s late son Beau, 46, who passed away in May, encouraged him to run.
The chatter is growing louder now that Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton appears vulnerable in upcoming primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose populist message is generating large crowds.
And amid ongoing news about Clinton’s use of private emails as secretary of state, some Democratic donors and supporters are saying they need a candidate who does not have “all of the distractions of Clinton’s campaign,” according to the New York Times.
That someone could be Joe Biden.
Before President Barack Obama was elected, Toni Morrison famously labeled former President Bill Clinton the nation’s first Black president. That would have made Hillary, arguably, the first Black First Lady.
But here are five ways Biden is poised to seize the Clinton Black Card in 2016:
He already has a Black card as vice president in the Obama administration:
For the first time on record, Blacks outvoted Whites at the ballot box in the 2012 presidential election, redelivering President Obama and Vice President Biden to the White House.
“I got elected because of the NAACP,” Biden said last year at the NAACP convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to MSNBC. “They didn’t check my credentials at the door, so I’ll tell you them to you now: I am a lifelong member of the NAACP.”
He gets street cred for how he handled his business with “Corn Pop:”
In his memoir, Promises to Keep, Biden recounts the story of how he almost came to blows with a brother named Corn Pop, who broke the rules while a young Biden was working one summer as a lifeguard at a predominantly-Black swimming pool in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden de-escalated the situation by condemning Corn Pop, a member of a gang called the Romans, for breaking the pool rules and apologizing loudly for calling him out in front of his friends. Moves like that helped him earn the respect of the local African-American community over the years, and they helped elect him as Delaware’s U.S. Senator. A passage from Promises to Keep:
“By the way, I owe you an apology,” I said, again loud enough for everybody to hear….”That was wrong. And in front of all your friends, I sincerely apologize. But if you bounce on the board like that again, I’m still going to throw you out.” We both put our weapons away, and we ended up being friends.
He will continue to fight for voting rights:
As the nation this week celebrates 50 years of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Obama administration has been battling Republican-led efforts to restrict voting rights for people of color. And Vice President Biden has been part of that effort.
During a speech last year at the NAACP convention in Las Vegas, Biden explained that protecting voting rights “used to be a bipartisan” effort, but Republicans recently began trying to block access to ballot boxes after people of color catapulted Obama and Biden into office in 2008 and 2012.
It’s a brazen “attempt to repress minority voting masquerading as an attempt to end corruption” Biden told the NAACP audience last year, according to CBS News.
He will defend Obamacare, which he famously called “a big f*cking deal!”
Biden has made no secret of his support for Obamacare in the face of constant attacks from Republicans, whose presidential candidates have vowed to dismantle the law. Biden famously told the president over a hot mic at the signing of the health care law in 2010, “this is a big f*cking deal!”
He advocates reforming prison sentencing guidelines:
In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Joe Biden gave each other man-hugs after the president signed a controversial crime bill that “worsened the nation’s criminal justice system” by increasing prison sentences for mostly Black and Hispanic nonviolent offenders.
Now 20 years later, both men are experiencing blowback from the measure that has decimated generations of Black families. While Clinton embarks on an apology tour, Biden is working hard to reform mandatory minimum prison sentences as a member of the Obama administration.
What do you think of a Joe Biden run for president? Sound off in the comments.