The Boston Globe, “Biden buzz has a beehive in Boston,” September 4, 2015
By Jim O’Sullivan
Massachusetts is still solidly Clinton Country, having handed Hillary Rodham Clinton a 15-point primary win in 2008 despite entreaties of its three top Democratic political figures to back Barack Obama. Most of the state’s political establishment has declared its fealty this time around, too.
But the state is also becoming something of an apiary for that particular brand of political honey known as Joseph Robinette Biden. Representative Seth Moulton has already signaled he might break Biden’s way if he runs. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the shining light of the progressive left, met privately with him last month, to the displeasure of the Clintonites.
And the vice president has longstanding relationships in the state that could reap political benefits if he runs.
“Boston’s been good to him,” said Rick Vitali, a Lynn attorney who campaigned with Biden during his first presidential bid, in the 1988 campaign. “Boston’s raised him money, given him bodies.”
Should Biden decide to get in — far from a foregone conclusion — the Draft Biden super PAC that has been effectively stalking him wants him to do so by the first Democratic presidential debate, in Nevada on Oct. 13.
“I would hope, if he would announce, he would announce in time to be on that debate stage in October,” said Josh Alcorn, the former top adviser to the late Beau Biden. Alcorn’s decision to join Draft Biden last month was treated as a quickening of the organization’s pulse. The group also signed up an Allston-based firm to handle digital operations.
Alcorn and Brad Bauman met Tuesday for lunch with a small group of potential fund-raisers in the Boston offices of the Rasky Baerlein public affairs firm. Its chairman, Larry Rasky, remains close to Joe Biden and hosted the event.
The group is battling the longstanding perception that fund-raising constitutes one of Biden’s chief weaknesses, a shortcoming that would be compounded by the deep cash hole Biden would find himself in against Clinton.
“It’s a lot different now than it was eight years ago — or even before that. His network is much bigger now,” Alcorn said. “He’s been in a lot of people’s homes.”
The super PAC, which by law cannot coordinate directly with Biden, has sketched a rosy picture of the late summer and early fall, a three-month stretch that organizers think will have portrayed Biden in the best possible light. At the same time, Clinton has been unable, thus far, to stanch the political bloodflow connected to her handling of e-mails while she was at the State Department.
Here’s the scenario: The current Biden boomlet launched at the beginning of August, with a New York Times column reporting that one of Beau Biden’s dying wishes had been for his father to run. Since then, the buzz has focused on whether Biden will, with the expectedly positive comments for one of the best-liked figures in politics.
“There is no question in anyone’s mind that the vice president won August,” said Bauman, who along with Alcorn folded some media barnstorming into their political and fund-raising calendar with stops at the Globe, Herald, and New Hampshire outlets.
This week, the Obama administration secured enough votes in the Senate to shield the nuclear accord negotiated between Iran and world powers from heavy opposition, a pact that will serve as a keystone of Obama’s foreign policy legacy. Biden has already received ample credit from proponents of the deal, and he will surely receive more as it moves ahead.
On Sept. 22, Pope Francis lands in Washington, where, one would imagine, the nation’s leading Catholic politician will manage to snag a photo op or two, including one nicely over the pontiff’s shoulder when he addresses Congress.
Then, a two-day papal visit to Philadelphia. Biden, conveniently, is from Pennsylvania and was sometimes referred to as the state’s “third senator” during his time representing Delaware in the Senate.
If he gets in the race, and does so before the Oct. 13 debate, he’ll be poised to receive the customary “announcement bounce.” Past debate performances have accrued to his credit, meaning that postgame coverage of the event could be another asset.
And there you have it: “90 days of him having made the case,” as Bauman described it.
Of course, this surmise depends heavily on luck; Philadelphians once pelted Santa Claus with snowballs at a football game, and the reception for Francis is not assured. It also seemingly intentionally ignores the possibility for any rebound by Clinton and her major structural headstarts in the key early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. And it perhaps intentionally holds at arm’s length the history that Biden’s two previous White House bids did not go particularly well.
Biden supporters, though, believe that developments in the Republican primary may have opened a door for Biden’s unvarnished style.
“Throw out the teleprompters” has been the message behind GOP voters’ embrace of front-runner Donald Trump, said Jonathan Karush, whose Liberty Concepts is handling the Draft Biden digital work. “And if Trump is going to reframe the way this is done, who better than Joe Biden to embody that off-the-cuff style while also holding to the values that we hold dear?”
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