His political future long overshadowed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and lately feeling pressure from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo nipping at his heels, recent actions on the budget and guns has finally pushed Vice President Joe Biden to the front of the 2016 pack, according to Democratic officials and pollsters.
"Yes, Joe Biden is truly top tier for 2016," Donna Brazile, former Vice President Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager, told Secrets. "Along with Clinton, he will be seen as a front runner for the job," she added.
"Biden, at his best, is the very best. He's faster on his feet than any of the potential Democratic candidates, including Hillary," agreed GOP advisor Frank Luntz.
The likely heir to President Obama's best-ever campaign operation and fundraising list, Biden is set up to gun for Clinton and Cuomo over the next two years as they consider their own presidential bids. Officials said Biden has advantages over both: Clinton is leaving her job under a cloud created by the terror killings at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and Cuomo doesn't have a national stage like Biden. Also, in the modern era, no sitting vice president has lost the nomination when they sought it.
Pollster John Zogby told Secrets that Biden's stock began to soar during the election, when he brought blue collar and union voters back to Obama, and after when he cut the deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and took charge of the president's gun control agenda. Cuomo this week moved to beat Biden to the gun control punch, but Biden and Obama plan to take their plan on the road nationally.
Zogby said Biden stands a good chance to follow Obama. "What are his real chances? For this pollster: good to very good." Zogby especially likes Biden's Main Street roots. "There is none of the usual elitism associated with big liberal Democrats. Joe from Scranton, [Pa.] seems never far from his working class roots and has shown an ability to mix with the guys on the campaign trail. When he referred to the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act as a 'BFD' to the president at the White House ceremony, he demonstrated the degree to which the F-word has become merely a prefix to millions of us."
And while many cite Biden's frequent gaffes occasional long-winded answers as reasons he won't get the nomination, Zogby said: "Biden also talks too much. Very much. But so did Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson."
And he would be the oldest candidate ever in his first bid, but officials note that Hillary will also be a senior citizen--as will many voters.