Joe “One-Term” Biden for president?

It’s the question hanging over the former VP’s run

Someone has finally taken on the elephant in the room looming over the campaign of Joe Biden, who has managed to be the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and the most wobbly major candidate in the field at the same time: If the third time somehow proves to be the charm, and Biden wins the White House prize that first eluded him 31 years ago, he almost certainly would be a one-term president. 

So reports Ryan Lizza this morning in Politico in a piece that works through the details of something that has seemed obvious from the start: Joe Biden, if elected next year, would not look to win a second four-year term, at the start of which he would be 82 years old. 

Lizza reports that Biden campaign officials have been debating whether the candidate should make a public vow to serve only one term. The decision the campaign has apparently reached for now is to avoid such a declaration, but “quietly indicate that he almost certainly will not run for a second term.” 

That seems like a smart way to approach the issue, which avoids the trap of being a self-declared lame duck on Day 1. Sending strong signals that he’d only serve a single term, however, might even give Biden a lift, especially with Democratic voters who are hoping for a more progressive change agent and who could be dispirited at the thought of a possible  eight-year Biden reign. 

Instead, Biden might tap a running mate who appeals to that bloc and who would be almost regarded as the party’s 2024 nominee-in-waiting. For all the hype that regularly attends the selection of a running mate, Biden’s choice under such a scenario would be one of the most consequential VP picks in US history. 

“I think who his vice president is will be very important because people will be thinking about that. But I don’t think I would make a one-term pledge,” said John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman, endorsing the idea of avoiding a flat-out one-term vow. “That’s a weak play.” 

Biden has largely staked his campaign on presenting himself as a morally-grounded alternative to President Trump, someone who can bring stability and probity to a country weary from the unprecedented norm-breaking that has become a daily feature of the current White House.

In that way, the clear understanding that he would serve just one term solidifies the idea of Biden as, in the words of one campaign adviser, a “good transition figure.” 

In October, Biden was publicly noncommittal when asked by about a second term. 

“I feel good and all I can say is, watch me, you’ll see,” he told the AP. “It doesn’t mean I would run a second term. I’m not going to make that judgment at this moment.” 

But a top adviser to the campaign was more candid with Lizza. “If Biden is elected,” Lizza quotes the adviser telling him, “he’s going to be 82 years old in four years and he won’t be running for reelection.”

One Democratic strategist put it in even more blunt terms. It would be “crazy for him to run for a second term,” he told Lizza. “It’s a bit crazy to run for a first.” 

Of course, if Biden fades in the coming months, all this talk of serving just a single term will be irrelevant and quickly forgotten. But if he stays on track and gets closer to the nomination, it’s only likely to get more attention. 

MICHAEL JONAS 


BEACON HILL

The closeout budget impasse could sweep away millions of dollars socked away by the House and Senate. (CommonWealth) Here’s a closeup look at the tax issue that is causing the budget stalemate on Beacon Hill. (State House News)

The Baker administration awards $920,000 in grants for gear-cleaning equipment to 174 fire departments across the state. (MetroWest Daily News)

Lawmakers are considering mandatory HIV testing for people suspected of infecting others with the deadly virus, a policy that bill sponsor Rep. Tram Nguyen says will protect first-responders. (Salem News

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is joining with six city councilors is calling on the Boston Police Department to stop using a controversial hair-test to screen cadets for possible drug use. (Boston Globe

The Worcester City Council votes to retain Columbus Day.

A Holyoke affordable housing project gets a $6.5 million state boost. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries after she was struck by a Brockton police cruiser on Tuesday. (The Enterprise) 

Gloucester Licensing Board chairwoman Melissa Teixeira Prince had already begun fact-finding about family-friendly taprooms in Beverly when Rev. Jamie Green Klopotoski, fearing regulatory battles, scuttled her plans for a brewery where parents could drink while their children play nearby. (Gloucester Daily Times

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Democrats will charge President Trump with two impeachment counts — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (Washington Post

A federal judge in El Paso, Texas, issued a nationwide injunction against blocking funding of the border wall. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Pete Buttigieg releases a list of clients he worked for during his tenure at McKinsey & Company after the consulting giant freed him from a nondisclosure agreement preventing such revelations. (New York Times

Roxbury district City Councilor Kim Janey says she has the necessary votes of her colleagues to be elected council president next month. (Boston Globe)  

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

New CEO Lisa Wieland is settling in at Massport. (Boston Globe

Somerset zoning officials voted Monday to delay their decision approving new businesses Eastern Metal Recycling and Allied Salt on Brayton Point, citing unanswered questions that still surround the application. (Herald News) 

EDUCATION

Teachers in the Amherst Pelham Regional School System call on the School Committee to take action against a parent who they say has been abusive and engaged in racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic attacks. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Researchers say they have real hope for advances in the fight against ALS. (Boston Globe

TRANSPORTATION 

One day after the release of a report indicating the safety culture is lacking at the MBTA, Park Street Station filled with smoke. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Few members of the public know anything about the transportation climate initiative that is expected to be unveiled by 12 northeastern states and the District of Columbia, according to a new poll. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

US Attorney Andrew Lelling and Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, take charge personalities who lean in opposite directions politically, are named Bostonians of the Year by the Globe

Lawyers for terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will argue on Thursday that his death penalty trial should not have been held in Boston so close to where the 2013 bombing occurred. (WBUR)

The town of Truro has asked the state Housing Court to order the owners of Truro Motor Inn to fix “serious threats to the health, safety and welfare” of the occupants at the inn. (Cape Cod Times) 

Bampumim Teixeira was found guilty of the brutal murder of two physicians in their South Boston condo in May 2017. (Boston Globe

Charges against Gary Cifizzari accusing him of murdering his great aunt have been dropped after new DNA evidence clears him. Cifizzari of Taunton spent 35 years in prison for the crime. (MassLive)

MEDIA

Bloomberg is buying CityLab from the Atlantic. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

Newspapers of New England lays off eight workers at the Athol Daily News, the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, and the Greenfield Recorder. The office of the Athol Daily News was shut down but the paper will still be published out of Greenfield. (MassLive)

PASSINGS

Longtime Patriot Ledger executive editor Chazy Dowaliby died after a long cancer battle at 69.