Joe Biden’s defense of Mike Pence isn’t sitting well with a number of his fellow Democrats.
Biden this week stood up for the vice president and his former colleague in the U.S. Senate, referring to Pence as a “decent guy.” Though Biden’s assessment was far from a ringing endorsement, it was still enough to prompt outrage from many of the left who see Pence as intricately tied to what they see as the destructive presidency of Donald Trump.
As The Independent noted, many of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls spoke up to publicly oppose Biden’s assessment of Pence. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said on MSNBC that Pence is “not an honorable man,” and fellow Senator Kamala Harris from California said it was “ridiculous” that Pence refuses to meet privately with any of his female staff.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg took it a step further, calling Pence “the cheerleader of the porn star presidency” and questioning whether the very religious Pence had “stopped reading scripture” when he took a spot on the Trump ticket in 2016.
The refusal to rebuke Pence could make Joe Biden an even bigger target should he enter the 2020 presidential race. Many had already criticized Biden for being too centrist at a time when many are trying to move the Democratic Party to the left. This criticism has ramped up as speculation about a potential 2020 presidential run for Biden has intensified.
Though Biden has yet to make or announce any official decision, there are widespread reports that he will jump into the race soon and he already appears to be laying the groundwork for it. As CNN noted, Biden made remarks at a Delaware Democratic Party fundraising dinner that stopped just short of confirming that he was running for president.
At the event, Biden also appeared to be attempting to head off the criticism that he would be too moderate to hold the Democratic mantle in 2020.
“I get criticized by the new left. I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United… anybody who would run,” Biden said, stopping himself before saying that he himself was running. “I didn’t mean… Of anybody who would run! Because folks, we have to bring this country back together again.”
Theme in Biden speeches since he walked back the Pence line:
"I get criticized for saying anything nice about a Republican. Folks, that’s not who we are"
"We don’t treat the opposition as the enemy. We might even say a nice word every once in a while”https://t.co/zZUHaoGRrC
— Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) March 17, 2019
A series of early polls show that Joe Biden would likely start the race as the frontrunner to win the Democratic nomination, though polls this far out from the start of the primary have historically proven to be unreliable predictors of what might actually happen.