On Friday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, corralling the Democratic establishment around Biden’s struggling gaffe-riddled candidacy in an effort to stop the new frontrunner, Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-USSR).
“America is afflicted by a President who delights in division, cruelty, lies, and chaos. We deserve better in the Oval Office,” Kaine tweeted. “In Virginia’s primary, I will proudly vote for [Joe Biden]. Joe has exemplary heart, character, and experience—and he’s a leader our kids can look up to.”
America is afflicted by a President who delights in division, cruelty, lies, and chaos. We deserve better in the Oval Office. In Virginia's primary, I will proudly vote for @JoeBiden. Joe has exemplary heart, character, and experience—and he’s a leader our kids can look up to.
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) February 28, 2020
Biden, whom many Democrats long considered the most electable candidate against Donald Trump, has largely failed to gain traction in the 2020 primary. After finishing in fourth place in Iowa, fifth place in New Hampshire, and a distant second in Nevada, Biden is hoping for a strong win in South Carolina on Saturday to breathe new life into his flagging presidential bid. He has made a long series of gaffes that cast doubt on his ability to defeat Trump and lead the country. His primary losses seem to undercut his electability argument. He has long looked to black voters as his “firewall” — a term he now denies ever using — and that firewall seems to be collapsing.
Meanwhile, the Democratic establishment is panicking about the rise of Sanders, especially after the self-declared democratic socialist praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro last weekend and in a debate this week. While Sanders has repeatedly condemned authoritarianism, his advocacy for unworkable big government solutions will arguably inevitably lead to some version of authoritarian government control. He reveals the real threat of Democrats’ socialistic bent, and that scares the Democratic establishment.
Democrats are searching for a viable alternative to Sanders, and it appears Tim Kaine is attempting to corral them around Biden, despite his weaknesses. Other establishment figures have hesitated to support Biden, however, due to his many weaknesses. While the former vice president is likely to win South Carolina, it remains to be seen if he can turn his flailing campaign around. Barack Obama’s dogged refusal to endorse his former vice president undercuts Biden’s strongest argument.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.