Biden is the left’s verbal equivalent to Trump, a self-confident bomb thrower with real middle class grit whose ability to connect with working class voters would have disarmed Trump.
As “Saturday Night Live” wryly noted, we’re only weeks away from Donald Trump actually become president. Though a month has passed, liberals are still left scratching their heads, wondering how on Earth Hillary Clinton lost to a thin-skinned New York City elitist who literally flies around with a gold-plated bathroom.
Most pundits have come to the conclusion that Bernie Sanders would’ve defeated Trump, and though I don’t necessarily disagree, I think there was an even stronger candidate that would have demolished Trump had he chosen to run – Joe Biden.
In many ways, Biden is the left’s verbal equivalent to Trump, a self-confident bomb thrower with real middle class grit whose ability to connect with working class voters would have disarmed and revealed Trump’s “I’m a rich guy that is surrounded by rich people” persona, an argument wealthy Hillary was in no position to make.
While Trump proclaimed he wanted to “Make America great again,” Biden had the best strategy of undercutting his argument – that America never stopped being great.
“The American people never bend, never break, they are generous. I wish we could stop talking about what trouble we’re in,” Biden said in an October appearance on “The Tonight Show.” “We are in a better position than any country in the world to own the 21st century, we really are.”
It’s Biden gift of the takedown without coming across as poll-tested that would have been his greatest asset. Clinton, for all her strengths, never figured out a way to properly stand up to Trump’s bullying, something a self-confident Biden wouldn’t have broken a sweat doing.
One of my favorite clips of Biden (and there are many) showcases how at ease he is in his own skin, while offering a blistering takedown of America’s former mayor Rudy Giuliani. Keep in mind this takes just 20 seconds, and is something he rattled off while walking to the car.
That facial expression at the end says more than a thousands words. Confident, relatable, funny and makes a good point, all in less time than a commercial. Could you imagine this wit and intelligence fully unleashed on the campaign trail in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania?
While we’re on the subject of Pennsylvania, a state even flawed Hillary only lost by 44,312 votes, do you think Biden would have ignored the majority of the state and focus solely on Philadelphia?
In fact, Biden campaigned for Clinton outside the City of Brotherly Love, and at a Democratic rally just before the election, had some prescient words about the importance of rural Pennsylvania.
“It all may come down to Pennsylvania, no joke, and the two most important cities in Pennsylvania are Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh,” Biden said.
President Obama easily won Scranton in 2012 by 16 points with native son Joe Biden on his ticket. This year, Hillary won, but barely. But she lost Wilkes-Barre and Erie, which Obama has carried easily.
In Pennsylvania and across the country, Hillary underperformed Obama among voters younger than 30. But to many of those same voters, Biden is somewhat of a rock star, thanks to his self-depreciating sense of humor and a persona of a rebel popularized by the satirical website The Onion.
Young voters comprised only 16 percent of Hillary’s tally, compared to 19 percent in 2012. If she had just come close to Obama’s numbers in three states, she would have won the election.
So when Biden jokes that he may run in 2020, it’s easy to laugh and point out the fact that he’d be 78. But it also reveals a road not taken, a “might have been” if Debbie Wasserman Schultz weren’t in charge of the DNC, and if Biden wasn’t forced to endure the untimely death of his son, Beau.
But Democrats (especially younger voters) still view him as “Uncle Joe,” and have embraced him more than any Vice President in recent memory. But as they end their embrace and Biden makes his way back to Delaware, they’re left with a quiet voice pinging around in the back of their head.
“What if. What if.”
Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and WHYY contributor. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobTornoe