The presidential candidate pool of 2016 is more shallow now after the loss of a few men running from both parties. The one causing the most excitement was a man who never declared his candidacy but kept people dangling from hints that he might. I always felt that Vice-president Joe Biden wasn’t going to be a candidate. By the time he got initiated, he would be 74 years old—definitely a one-term president and a lame duck from the get-go. Pushed by supporters and waiting for Hillary Clinton to be a disaster on the Democratic side, he kept making presidential statements, such as lambasting Clinton for declaring the GOP as her enemy.
Biden came away from the Democratic debate preaching bipartisanship with the party of Donald Trump and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), late of the 11-hour hearing debacle from the Benghazi select committee. President Obama went into his first term advocating a bipartisan approach with GOP members who were not as extremist as now (hard to believe!) and lost three years. GOP congressional members promised to vote for bills if the president watered them down. He did, and they didn’t. That’s why the country is stuck with the mish-mash of the Affordable Health Care Act giving money to private insurance companies instead of a successful single-payer plan. After three years in office, President Obama finally understood that the GOP is not to be trusted. Clinton understands the vicious motivation of the GOP before the final months of her campaign, and the conservative party made their position very clear by threatening to impeach Clinton on the first day of her presidency.
With many faithful followers, Biden looked like a good possibility to take over the Dem race. His poll numbers were also up, but looking like a success is easier if a person isn’t actually competing. He has a good background in some areas such as authorizing the Violence against Women Act, but Biden comes with baggage. there’s also some baggage to Joe Biden. His banking ties a representative of Delaware, the state with loose laws surrounding corporations, may have put him too close to credit-card companies before the past few years. In 1988, he dropped out of the presidential candidacy after accusations of plagiarism in a speech.
The hearings for Clarence Thomas, possibly the worst Supreme Court justice ever, may also come back to haunt Biden. He chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee when Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment and failed to call on three other witnesses who would have given the same testimony as Hill. Although Biden has evidence regret about the hearing, he has not apologized for subjecting Hill, a black woman, to public humiliation. Those hearings are over 24 years in the past, but a new movie coming out will definitely revive memories of those dark days.
Before the Thomas hearings, Biden voted against legal abortion in 1982 by supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the next two decades, he received mixed marks from NARAL Pro-Choice America with a 36 percent rating in 2003, 0 being total disagreement. Biden did defend women’s rights to abortions during his 2008 presidential run but always claimed that he is opposed to abortion and always supported the Hyde Amendment, claiming that people opposed to abortion shouldn’t have to pay for them. Biden accepts his Catholic faith’s position that “life begins at conception.” He also voted in favor of the Iraq War, believing that people opposed to war should still have to pay for it.
The most recent candidate to drop out of the Democratic race is Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee. This step was a given after his failure to defend a vote at the first Democratic debate, but it became pretty definite when someone overheard him talking about it in the frozen foods section of a Dave’s Marketplace on Thursday night. Chafee made his official withdrawal during a speech to the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington the next morning.
Jim Webb’s change in status from Democratic candidate to a possible third runner in the final election reduces the Democratic field by one half to three people. Less known than any other candidate unless perhaps GOP Jim Gilmore, who hasn’t qualified for any debates, Webb’s record shows a short attention span—Secretary of the Navy for Ronald Reagan for only one year and senator for only one term, both by his choice. Those watching the Democratic debate may remember him for whining about not having enough time to talk and bragging about killing a North Vietnamese soldier. He also complained about his party leaving him—probably because he’s a Southern Democrat, another term for Republican. He defends the Confederate flag and the Confederacy, opposes gun-safety legislation, and rejects the Black Lives Matter movement. A descendant of Confederate officers, he has voiced sympathy for state sovereignty leading to the Civil War and suggested that the states were justified in trying to secede.
Webb is the only Democratic candidate to appear on the Fox network where he criticized Democratic policies in an interview with Bret Baier. Webb said that the Dems is their failure to champion the working people, using people with no health care for an example. In fact, it is the GOP that tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act fifty-plus times. Twelve years ago, he wrote an op-ed that supported Swiftboating Republicans who attacked John Kerry for opposing the Vietnam War by saying that Kerry didn’t deserve his Purple Star. Webb has said that women are biologically unsuited to fight in wars and poison male cadets with their presence.
The question now is who will be the next candidate to drop out on the GOP side. At this time donors are showing disillusionment with everyone except the top runners, and Jeb Bush is not in that top three. An average of 194 recent polls puts Bush at 7.3 percent, not far above Carly Fiorina at 4.7 percent. A recent poll puts Donald Trump ahead of Bush by 59 percent to 41 percent. Only two U.S. representatives—no senators or governors—have endorsed Bush within the past two months.
Worst of all, he raised only $13.5 million during the past three months, instead of the hoped-for $25 million, and spent $11.5 million of it. He has less cash on hand than Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson, forcing Bush to reduce expenditures. Bush cut staff salaries by 40 percent, reduced staff members in Miami by one-half, and uses cheaper hotels. Money problems drove Scott Walker out of the race; Bush’s SuperPAC raised $103 million in the first six months, but the lack of money coming into the campaign does not bode well.
While Bush goes down, Marco Rubio goes up, perhaps because he has more to talk about than a brother who caused the United States great disaster while president. Rubio has similar positions to Bush, but he’s younger and more charismatic, especially since the “joy” that Bush touted in his campaign has disappeared. Bush can brag about more experience, but the GOP, who put Trump and Carson at the top of the list, seems to consider experience a liability instead of an advantage. Walker claimed to drop out of the race for “the good” of the party; the question is whether Bush will do the same.
The next few days may indicate a direction for Bush, the candidate, as Bushes descend on Houston en masse—Papa Bush, little brother George, and sons, Jeb Jr. and George P. The events include a Monday breakfast, a Tuesday evening reception, and a program later for younger donors at beer distribution company Silver Eagle.
The next GOP debate is October 28, 2015—just four days from now.