That’s because intense scrutiny of Biden would start immediately if he became a candidate, and he has a lengthy record in public life for his opponents and the news media to dissect.
The New York Times illustrated the process of putting Biden under a microscope Sunday with a story headlined “Banking Ties Could Hurt Joe Biden in Race With Populist Overtone.”
The article discussed Biden’s “history with the financial services industry, an economic power in his home state of Delaware” and “the critics who saw him as too close to credit-card companies in more than three decades in the Senate….If Mr. Biden decides to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, his Senate reputation as a friend to financial institutions could be a significant obstacle, especially if he wants to make inroads with the party’s liberal base, which has become increasingly skeptical and often passionately hostile to anything connected to Wall Street.”
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Biden, who has been vice president since January 2009, met Aug. 22 with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, a favorite of anti-Wall Street liberals, indicating his desire to make overtures to the left as he considers a 2016 presidential run. Biden allies say that in recent years he has become more sensitive to consumer issues and supportive of financial reform.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an announced Democratic candidate, has been drawing big crowds and moving up in some polls as a candidate of the left and a strong critic of big financial interests.
Among other areas of scrutiny that Biden would face, strategists of both major parties say, are the sources of contributions to his Senate campaigns over the years, and what went wrong in his two past campaigns for president, including his 1988 bid in which he dropped out after being accused of plagiarism. He would also be faulted by Democratic liberals for his vote in support of the Iraq war, which he has since said was a mistake. (Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, also said it was a mistake for her to vote for the war as a senator from New York.)
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Biden also faces scrutiny on whether, after a lengthy career in Washington, he can be a candidate of the future or a leader who would shake up the status quo in Washington, as many voters seem to want. And his record of making gaffes would certainly be resurrected by his critics in the news media and on the campaign trail.
Biden is expected to decide whether he will become a candidate in the next month. Adding fuel to speculation that he will run was a report in the New York Times that his son Beau Biden, who recently died of a brain tumor, encouraged his father to get into the race.