The New York Times, among others, is reporting that Joe Biden and his advisors are trying to come up with ways to address voter concerns about his age if he enters the Democratic presidential primaries: “Mr. Biden and his top advisers are considering nodding to the rising next generation in Democratic politics — and elevating an heir — by announcing a running mate early, well before the nomination is sealed. Also under discussion is a possible pledge to serve only one term and framing Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign as a one-time rescue mission for a beleaguered country, according to multiple party officials.” Stacey Abrams has been named as a possible running mate.
While some pundits see this as a clever move, I have to dissent. I think the Republican analyst Jeff Blehar is exactly right on why this would be a bad move:
Limiting yourself to single Presidential term or announcing a VP in advance of winning the nomination are loser moves. They stink of a lack of confidence. Biden wants to project vigor and strength at his age, not frailty or weakness. It would be a mistake to do it.
— Esoteric Jeff (@EsotericCD) March 21, 2019
Biden, like any other candidate, has a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Pre-emptively addressing the weaknesses won’t make them go away but rather highlight them. It will make voters ask if Biden’s age isn’t a problem and also bring to the fore that he’s not just an old white guy but also an old white guy with a host of problems (gaffes, Anita Hill, Iraq war vote) that make many Democrats wary. Does Biden really want to make the campaign about his flaws, rather than his strengths?