Joe Biden has a bold new plan to beat Donald Trump in 2020, but it might not make Democrats happy.
The former vice president said that he may select a Republican to be his running mate, but he’s not sure who he would choose, NBC News reported.
While Biden’s move may make him more appealing to a fairly broad swath of voters, it probably won’t go over well with a progressive left that has come to regard “Republican” and “traitor” as synonyms.
Seeking “simpatico” running mate
Biden, who has pitched his campaign on a return to the so-called normalcy and decency of the pre-Trump era, has often touted his ability to cross the aisle. But his appeals to civility have landed him in hot water with leftist True Believers, who have slammed him for calling Mike Pence a “decent” man and talking up his “civil” relationships with segregationists.
The former vice president again struck a bipartisan tone at a town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire on Monday when a voter asked whether he would pick a Republican to be his running mate. The woman said that Biden would have to “pull out all the stops” to win and mentioned that her son had wondered if he would cross party lines.
“The answer is I would, but I can’t think of one right now,” Biden said, to ripples of laughter. “Let me explain that,” he continued. “You know there’s some really decent Republicans that are out there still, but here’s the problem right now…they’ve got to step up.”
Biden went on to say that there’s “a lot of qualified women, there’s a lot of qualified African-Americans,” and he’d “pick somebody who has simpatico with me, who knew what I, what my priorities were and knew what I wanted to.”
Potentially risky play
While the idea of crossing party lines is attractive to many in a time of vanishing civility and hardened divisions, Biden’s play would certainly rattle Democrats who have come to see the Republican party as a group of traitors and patsies of the Kremlin. Moreover, any Republican willing to run against Donald Trump would likely lean considerably to the left, likely diluting the intended effect of a bipartisan ticket.
Biden’s potential nod to bipartisanship is in keeping with his deliberately moderate tack, which has attracted sustained criticism from left-wing pundits and progressive ideologues.
For example, he has faced serious backlash over the fact that for much of his career, he opposed federal funding for abortions and also because he played a leading-yet-controversial role in tough-on-crime legislation as a senator from Delaware.
But despite cthe ritiques of his middle-of-the-road approach, Biden is still his party’s frontrunner. His chief rivals at present are fellow moderate Pete Buttigieg and hard-left Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Sanders distanced himself from Biden’s bipartisan trial balloon on Tuesday, saying he would not accept a Republican VP under any terms. “I will have somebody who shares my views,” Sanders said. “I am not aware of too many Republicans who do.”