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But He’s the Safe Choice!

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A useful reminder of just how disastrous Biden’s 1988 campaign for president was:

Joe Biden was riffing again — an R.F.K. anecdote, a word about “civil wrongs,” a meandering joke about the baseball commissioner — and aides knew enough to worry a little.

When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program,” Mr. Biden thundered, testing his presidential message in February 1987 before a New Hampshire audience. “I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes. And we changed attitudes.”

More than once, advisers had gently reminded Mr. Biden of the problem with this formulation: He had not actually marched during the civil rights movement. And more than once, Mr. Biden assured them he understood — and kept telling the story anyway.

By that September, his recklessness as a candidate had caught up with him. He was accused of plagiarizing in campaign speeches. He had inflated his academic record. Reporters began calling out his exaggerated youth activism.

“I’ve done some dumb things,” Mr. Biden conceded at a stop-the-bleeding news conference at the Capitol. “And I’ll do dumb things again.”

He vowed that day to fight on. He quit the race within a week.

Well, I certainly still see no downside to someone whose strategy is to avoid campaigning being the 2020 nominee, particularly when “electability” is pretty much all he’s selling.

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