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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

President Obama claimed earlier this week that if he were able to run for a third term, he’s pretty sure he would win. But since that can’t happen, who is best fit to continue his run of accomplishments as president?

Enter Joe Biden.

Vice presidents may have the experience and standing that gives them ideal placement to assume the Oval Office – but in the last two decades VPs have not enjoyed much popularity or had much success as candidates.

Joe Biden could change that.

Not only does he have undeniable political experience, but Biden has made a dent in the popular consciousness like few pols have: He’s worshiped by Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope, his is the face that launched a thousand memes, and he’s even been an in-demand prom date for certain adoring high-school fans. Now he’s also the focus of a passionate grassroots movement interested in getting him to run.

Unlike Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has groundswell support but emphatically told her admirers “hell no,” Biden has neither confirmed nor denied he’s running for president, though he did say he’d make up his mind by August 1. That’s this Saturday.

Biden has run for president twice before, and lost badly both times. That’s likely to have made him skittish about running again. Yet, as the Wall Street Journal reported, shortly before he passed away in May, Biden’s son Beau had urged his father to run.

Will Pierce, a 27-year-old Army reservist, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, and former Obama for America volunteer, started Draft Biden 2016 earlier this year. He, along with a few other ex-Obama campaigners, realized that Biden could be a great candidate, and that other Democrats in the race—Hillary Clinton especially—inspired such little enthusiasm in them.

Despite being in the odd situation of supporting a candidate who’s not yet in the race and having little fundraising money, the upstart PAC – which operates out of an office in Chicago – has chapters in 20 states and paid directors in Iowa and New Hampshire.

It recently released a video under the slogan “Ridin’ with Biden” to garner signatures.

“Why not Biden?” opens the ad, as a diverse cast expounds on their reasons for loving the VP.

Charm is certainly a part of it, but it’s also his record of successfully leveraging that charm, as Draft Biden 2016 explains on its petition page:

As one of the calming forces and charming presences in the White House, Vice President Joe Biden has been front and center in playing a significant role in many of the important successful political events of the past few years.

Take for example his ability to work out a last minute deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2013, in which he served as a mediator between the White House and Congress. He took a situation that seemed completely hopeless at times and helped to solve it.

Or, consider his tireless efforts to try and address the ever-important gun violence issue in the United States. Unlike many politicians who are championing decisions that are clearly designed to appeal to the emotions of their constituents, Joe Biden has sought to tackle the issue from seemingly every angle, such as opening up amicable dialogue with the National Rifle Association. Did we mention that he’s in charge of the task force designed to find a gun solution?

At a time in which many feel that Washington is a place riddled with inaction and a political system that is broken, Vice President Biden has exhibited a never-wavering optimism and enthusiasm for progression that makes him strive to deliver tangible change.

“Here’s a man who was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee,” Pierce said to NPR. “I look at someone who is a statesman. He’s always someone who puts his country ahead of himself, and that’s what we need right now.”

A couple of politicians in Iowa have already endorsed the vice president, because, they claim, he’s got both charm and credibility. “I think he does a great job with that style. When he talks to you, he just makes you feel like he’s talking to you,” Democratic Iowa state Representative Jim Lykam told National Journal.

Biden’s charisma cuts both ways. Clinton and Biden have dramatically different temperaments: He’s seen as genuine and spontaneous, while she can come across as calculating, methodical, and carefully scripted. But while his off-the-cuff remarks might be endearing, sometimes they can be a liability.

Polls show that Biden is undoubtedly popular, and he would likely take votes from Clinton in the primaries. Yet when pollsters pit him against Republicans, as David Weigel explains in the Washington Post, he fares consistently worse than Clinton, indicating that he may not be a viable Democratic candidate to win the White House in 2016.

As of this writing, Draft Biden has almost 153,000 signatures. Pierce told Up With Steve Kornacki over the weekend that if Biden chooses to run, he expects a windfall of money from supporters. Already one prominent Democratic donor, Dr. Howie Mandel, who advised Biden on health care issues and served on the Obama campaign’s Health Policy Advisory Committee, has joined the Draft Biden team.

And if Biden decides not to run? Draft Biden spokesperson Sarah Ford told The National Memo that they’re so focused on building the necessary infrastructure to support him that “we really don’t know” what they’ll do if he says he’s not up for it. “We haven’t thought past [this Saturday].”

Photo: How can you not be Ridin’ with Biden when Joe is just this cool? Still via the shop at Draft Biden 2016.

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo