As previous Vice chairman Joe Biden prepares to take it the Democratic debate stage ~ above Wednesday, the press is ~ above the front jogger for the party’s 2020 nomination for the presidency — particularly after the June debate, after ~ which that admitted he was unprepared for fellow candidate Sen. Kamala Harris to speak to him the end on his past positions on busing.

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But for at least one veteran political reporter, that moment is just part of a decades-long history that goes every the method back to the very first Biden make an main run because that the White home — and also to the scandal that ended that campaign.

“Then, as now in fact, Biden is not as fast on his feet as a effective candidate typically is,” suggests Laurence I. Barrett, a previous national political correspondent that profiled Biden during his three-month-long presidential bid in the run-up come the 1988 election.

Biden had been on presidential watch-lists because that years by that point. Once he was chosen to the Senate in 1972, the was already seen as White house material.’s walk-up of election Day the year detailed the extraordinary enthusiasm bordering his Senate campaign, stating that he would be old sufficient to operation for president in 1976, if just by 61 days.

He mulled the idea in the years that followed. By the moment he did explain his candidacy for the presidency, top top June 9, 1987, that had remained in the Senate for more than a decade, despite his age — now seen by some as a weak — was still one of his strengths.

“What world don’t psychic today about Biden in the 1980s is the he was taken into consideration by rather a few people together a bright brand-new hope, various from various other Democrats,” says Barrett.


President Ronald Reagan had actually won 2 presidential elections, and also the democratic field challenged a pretty wide-open race. The seven major contenders were nicknamed the seven Dwarfs. (Biden joked they have to be dubbed the seven deadly sins, speak after Gary Hart backed the end amid a scandal end an to work that, “We’ve acquired an opening for lust.”) The absence of a front jogger seemed like a good opportunity because that Biden.

“The Democrats had taken two shellackings at the hand of Reagan, and also there to be this thought, not really based on a most facts, that the democracy were also soft, too feminine, as well much into interest politics, and also Biden was viewed by his own civilization as one antidote to the — great looking and athletic — that would come across as stronger,” Barrett says.

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Not that the candidate to be without his drawbacks: “Biden’s mouth is both his best asset and his best liability,” Barrett wrote shortly after Biden announced his candidacy. That evaluation would prove enduringly prescient.