Replacing Joe Biden as the Democratic Nominee Isn’t Easy

Unless President Joe Biden withdraws from the presidential race by his choosing, it will be impossible for Democrats to replace him.

It would seem there is a genuine prospect to replace Biden at this point. His cognitive abilities continue to poke the question of whether he should run for president again or even continue in the presidency now.

It used to be only Republicans floating these fears but Democrats, following the damning Special Counsel report last week, are now echoing the sentiment.

As reported days ago by the New York Post, how does Biden recover from this reality?

Perhaps most damaging to the president, Hur, a former Maryland US attorney, suggested that jurors would not hold Biden liable for his actions on account of his perceived mental decline, even though he is seeking a second four-year term in November.

“[A]t trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” the report says.

When Biden sat for questions with Hur’s investigators Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, he presented himself as confused on many points — though the White House has regularly maintained the chief executive is mentally fit for office despite similar public errors.

Biden “did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended (‘if it was 2013 — when did I stop being Vice President?’), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began (‘in 2009, am I still Vice President?’),” the report says.

“He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died [May 2015]. And his memory appeared hazy when describing the Afghanistan debate that was once so important to him. Among other things, he mistakenly said he ‘had a real difference’ of opinion with General Karl Eikenberry, when, in fact, Eikenberry was an ally whom Mr. Biden cited approvingly in his Thanksgiving [2009] memo to President Obama.”

Joe Biden did not know if he was still Vice President as of October last year. Seriously? To put it mildly, this is not a mundane detail.

For years now, on the stump and elsewhere, Joe Biden has been rearranging the details of his son’s death repeatedly claiming that he “died in Iraq,” something that is simply not so. Beau died years after coming home from Iraq from brain cancer.

But to that point even further, if Joe Biden is not able to stand trial for abusing and missing classified documents because he doesn’t remember anything about it, how is he capable of serving out his term as president?

Many Democratic strategists and analysts are, shall we say, concerned:

Longtime Democratic strategist Paul Begala revealed on CNN Friday morning that he slept like a baby last night following President Joe Biden’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day: he woke up crying every two hours and wet the bed.

John Berman set his guest up by asking, “How much democratic bedwetting do you think there will be?” which he immediately (and correctly) defended as a political term of art, and it’s used in democratic politics.

“Look, I’m a Biden supporter. And I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every two hours crying and wet the bed,” Begala japed.

“This is terrible for Democrats, and anybody with a functioning brain knows that,” the long-time Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House aide flatly said.

This is a hard fact to run away from. Joe Biden is not all there and the ongoing revelations of his diminished faculties continue bubbling to the surface.

Sending Joe Biden out to the microphone to rebut these fears was unhelpful at best, and perhaps served to reinforce the idea at worst.

In the end, left-wing media writers at the Washington Post are still running cover for their guy lamenting the “caricature” of Joe Biden taking hold among the electorate:

The broad conclusion, both inside and outside Biden’s inner circle, is that a dangerous and misleading caricature of the president’s performance is at risk of setting in, pushed by the biting prose of a special prosecutor they suspected of seeking political revenge.

“What angers you the most is when something is the opposite of the truth,” White House senior adviser Gene Sperling said. “Of the three presidents I have worked for, no one more meticulously goes over every fact in a speech. No one do you feel like you have to go in with such detailed knowledge of every single thing because you feel like you are going to be quizzed.”

The emotions of Democrats across the country ranged from fear to despondency.

“About as hair on fire as you can imagine,” texted one Democratic operative Friday morning, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment. “Worse than I even thought it would be.”

They’re worried that poor Joe Biden is getting a bad rap yet there’s still no way to explain away the Special Counsel report and Biden’s inability to remember much of anything.

If it was a legal tactic to avoid prosecution, then maybe Joe Biden’s at least aware enough to use his shortcomings to his advantage.

As it stands now, there is no serious primary challenger to Joe Biden. He will continue winning all the delegates and will remain as the presumed nominee until someone steps in and forces him to step down.

Even in that situation, once the delegates are set for the convention, it’s difficult to do an end-run around the process, according to Vox:

The Democratic presidential nominee is chosen in August at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where a candidate needs to win the support of 1,969 of the 3,936 Democratic delegates. Those delegates are assigned proportionally based on the vote totals in a state’s primary (for any candidate who wins more than 15 percent of votes), and are then “pledged” or “bound” to that candidate in the first round of voting at the Democratic convention. Under this system, another candidate would need to win more delegates than Biden.

Even if someone could magically mount a successful challenge and notch some delegates, any that Biden has won will be bound to support him at the first DNC floor vote, according to party rules. Only Biden can make the decision to direct his delegates to vote for someone else, but they are pledged to vote for him unless he drops out beforehand.

And this is where the practical and political challenges merge: Biden is the only one who can decide if he wants to drop out before the floor vote. And there are plenty of reasons that wouldn’t happen.

In other words, Joe Biden is the kingmaker in the Democratic Party right now. If he decides to step down before the convention as the 2024 nominee, he could direct his delegates to support someone else or at least release them. No one else can force the change.

The last, best hope Democrats have for replacing Joe as the nominee in 2024 will come at the convention in August. If Joe Biden makes it out and accepts the mantle as the official nominee, that’s it. Game over. Democrats are stuck with Joe and his failing faculties.

Nate Ashworth

The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for over a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016 that continues today.

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