Vice President Joe Biden's comments on Election Day that independent Greg Orman was "with us" could have had a profound impact on the election. Before his comments, Democrats had remained mostly silent on speculating which party Orman would caucus with while Republican attack ads claimed Orman was a closet Democrat and would caucus with Democrats in the Senate.
In one, last-minute sentence, Biden threw a political bone that was devoured by the media, Internet news outlets, and the Roberts campaign. But just how planned was it?
The Historical Role of the Vice Presidency
In modern politics, vice presidents often fill the role of the attack dog -- keeping the president above the messy squabbling. This role is most prevalent in the media and presidential debates.The president usually sticks to a positive message relating to his platform and agenda while the vice president fends off attacks and even goes on the attack to protect the administration's agenda.
Joe Biden has filled this role well.
Biden portrays himself as a folksy, salt-of-the-earth type of guy. He swears occasionally in public, and while usually this is a no-no for politicians, it just "works" for him and adds to his credibility as a simple politician with a direct message.
But this politician is far from simple and has a whole arsenal of top advisers who help him with strategy and planning his next moves. Democratic political science geniuses like Jared Bernstein, Jake Sullivan, and Jeff Prescott help keep Joe Biden focused while navigating the land mines of politics.
Joe Biden Promotes Joe Biden's Agenda
Political opponents may call Biden the president's "attack dog," but the vice president has also been known to promote his own agenda, even at the expense of his own party or the president's agenda. While the media often dismisses these remarks as "goofs," they are likely more calculated than people are led to believe.
In 2012, Biden completely caught the White House off guard by forcing President Obama to take a stand on gay marriage during his campaign against Mitt Romney. Obama had previously remained silent on gay marriage, yet was forced to make it a major civil rights issue in a presidential election year.
Obama's heavy reliance on Biden's foreign policy experience was also highlighted in 2012 when Obama's campaign considered replacing Biden in order to bolster the president's credibility. Internal polling showed that it wouldn't help their campaign, but it reveals a rift in the White House that Biden had outlived his usefulness.Joe Biden's eyes are currently on 2016. Very rarely does a sitting two-term vice president choose not to run for the White House. The next two years will be defined by Biden's attempts to consolidate support as a credible candidate for the presidency.
A Republican Congress is probably one of Biden's best tools. Democratic control of the Senate would have shifted too much blame and attention on his own party, but a Republican Congress will serve only as a target for Democratic strategists and advertisers.
Biden bucked every single major poll the last week of the election, emphatically declaring the Democrats would retain the Senate. I don't think this was a moment of delusion from Biden, but a deliberate strategy. After all, reports indicate the White House was already preparing for a Congress fully controlled by Republicans before Election Day.
As the president of a Senate controlled by Republicans, he stands as a symbol of the last defense against the conservative agenda. Leading a Democratically-controlled Senate only makes him a part of the problem -- a symbol of gridlock and the do-nothing agenda of Harry Reid.
Democrats almost completely ignored Greg Orman's campaign until Biden's last-minute comments. I think Joe Biden intentionally threw Orman under the proverbial bus to increase his own chances at the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. Joe Biden is either a crafty, back-biting politician or a bumbling fool -- and I'm not buying the bumbling fool role.
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