Democrats’ Allegiance to Clinton Could Be Upended By a Biden Run

Hillary Clinton’s just refuses to level with Americans about her e-mail debacle. Her campaign argues that it’s a deliberate strategy because “[w]inning campaigns have a plan and stick to it, in good times and bad.” She likes to chalk it up to having a “relationship with the press [that] has been at times, shall we say, complicated.” And we think it’s just because she’s backed herself into such a corner that she doesn’t know how to weasel her way out.

But whatever the reason Democrat insiders are worried. The New York Times’ Patrick Healy, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman report on the latest:

Democratic leaders are increasingly frustrated by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failure to put to rest questions about her State Department email practices and ease growing doubts among voters about her honesty and trustworthiness.

On top of that, many say, her repeated jokes and dismissive remarks on the email controversy suggest that she is not treating it seriously enough.

Interviews with more than 75 Democratic governors, lawmakers, candidates and party members have laid bare a widespread bewilderment that Mrs. Clinton has allowed a cloud to settle over her candidacy — by using a private email server in the first place, since it was likely to raise questions about her judgment, and by not defusing those questions once and for all when the issue first emerged in March.

How could they not be worried? She’s consistently fudged the truth, ignored the key issues, ducked key questions, exaggerated her response, and, most recently, attempted to joke her way out of it.

“By the way, you may have seen that I’ve recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves,” she joked to a crowd at an Iowa fundraiser.

Former Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell, who supports Clinton’s candidacy, summed up his feelings about her team’s approach to the controversy to the New York Times.

“They’ve handled the email issue poorly, maybe atrociously, certainly horribly,” said Rendell. “The campaign has been incredibly tone-deaf, not seeing this as a more serious issue. She should have turned over the email server at the start, because they should have known they’d be forced to give it up. But at this point, there’s nothing they can do to kill the issue — they’re left just playing defense.”

Unsurprisingly, Clinton’s vulnerable status may have opened the door for candidates like Joe Biden, who increasingly looks like he may walk through it. According to reports, Biden has been in contact with top donors, many of which have yet to dip their toe in the water. The New York Times even reports that “some Democrats supporting Mrs. Clinton have quietly signaled that they would re-evaluate their support if Mr. Biden joined the race.” And perhaps most interestingly, Biden’s supporters are also setting the stage for a run as “the rightful heir to Mr. Obama’s legacy, given his loyalty to the president.”

That could put Democrats, and the White House, in a precarious position. POLITICO’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports:

Biden versus Hillary Clinton would tear at loyalties, emotions, political calculations — and, in some cases, actual contracts already signed with Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign headquarters.

In interviews, current and former White House staffers say that as Biden has ratcheted up the seriousness of his explorations, including having aides reach out to former top political operatives for President Barack Obama to gauge interest, the situation looks very different from when they’d been assuming she’d be the only real Democratic candidate in 2016. They had convinced themselves that she could be the heir to Obama and the one to protect his legacy, and they were excited about it.

A Biden run would upend that.

That’s not the only thing it may upend. What Democrats have always needed is a truly competitive primary, one that could test their candidate in order to make them general election ready. What they got instead was a scandal-laden primary, one that could poison the well for any Democrat candidate. Biden’s entry could finally get the race for the nomination started, and in so doing spell the end for Clinton.