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Biden's Decision Offers Clear Contrast Between Sanders, Clinton

Jacquelyn Martin
Wednesday afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden, with his wife Jill and President Obama by his side, announced from the White House Rose Garden that he would not seek the Democratic nomination for president.

Vice President Joe Biden has decided not to enter the 2016 presidential race.

As far as many political observers are concerned, Biden's decision not to run effectively makes the Democratic presidential campaign a two-person contest between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver says in his mind, it is a positive thing that Sanders is now viewed as the clear alternative to Clinton.

“There's a pretty clear difference between those two candidates in terms of their vision for America. I think it will be much cleaner for voters to be able to make that clear contrast between the two of them." Weaver said.

According to Weaver, voters will see that Sanders has had consistent positions on many issues for years, including his opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act and his support for same sex marriage. In contrast, Weaver says Clinton's agenda seems to be evolving.

“Bernie doesn't have a Super PAC, he's not relying on big money to fund his campaign,” Weavers explains. “On things like the Iraq war he's been there. On the issue of the Defense of Marriage Act he was there long before it was popular, the trade deals, the Keystone pipeline, over and over again Bernie has been there as others have evolved into his space."

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks it's critical for Sanders to highlight his differences with Clinton in the next three months before the Iowa caucuses.

"In my view that makes the next debate which is scheduled for November 14th in Iowa … very critical because Sanders needs to narrow the gap between himself and Clinton." Davis said.

Davis notes that Clinton has moved to the left on a number of key issues including her recent opposition to the Trans Pacific Trade deal and the Keystone Pipeline.

“That's an issue on which she could be vulnerable.” Davis says. “She says she's learned from experience and things like that but Sanders may very well want to come back on the issue of consistency in position versus changing one's position is it for expediency or is it out of principle?" 

Davis says it is critical for Sanders to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary if he hopes to be competitive with Clinton by Super Tuesday on March 1. That's when a dozen states, including Vermont, will hold their primaries.

You can watch Biden’s full statement on his decision not to run, below:


Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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