‘It’s too late in the game to keep saying it’s too early.’Philippe Reines, former Hillary Clinton advisor
For all practical purposes, it’s fair to say the Democratic race has come down to Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. They are the only candidates polling in double digits. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are in the next, outside circle, but polling in single digits. And everybody else is way behind.
So it has one thinking – for the purposes of unity and beating Trump, could there possibly be a Biden-Warren ticket?
It would mean getting practical and compromising on some moderate-vs-left positions. But isn’t that what always happens after the primary season is over and we’re facing the entire electorate?
The problem is they have a history. For example, Warren had been an antagonist of Biden’s in 2002, when she criticized him in a New York Times op-ed for his support of a bill that made it harder for consumers to declare bankruptcy.
The headline of Warren’s piece read: “A Quiet Attack on Women.” Warren, then a law professor at Harvard, detailed how the legislation would have a disproportionate impact on women, and implied that Biden was supporting the bill because of the finance industry’s outsized influence in Delaware, his home state.
This critique was clearly still on Biden’s mind in 2015, when he talked about reforms to the credit card industry enacted by President Obama’s administration.
“The credit card change we made, that alone has saved consumers over $20 billion a year,” he said. “If you look at Elizabeth Warren’s argument on this: ‘You should have just shut the suckers down.’”
But lately they have been quieter about directly criticizing each other. A spokesman for Warren, asked to comment declined to do so. A Biden spokesman also declined to comment. They both seem to be laying low on their differences.
In 2015, when Biden was considering running, he invited Warren to lunch at the vice presidential residence. He apparently was by that time convinced that if he ran for president in 2016, he would want her to be his running mate.
Since then he has also expressed regret on some of his past votes involving banking regulation, bringing himself more in line with Warren.
“The biggest mistake I made in my whole career,” he said, was voting to get rid of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking.
The law was partially repealed in 1999. Biden defended President Bill Clinton, who signed the 1999 legislation, as doing “a good job in the economy at the time, shifting us toward capital formation.”
“But,” he said, capital formation “became a holy grail,” and Democrats became too afraid of regulating Wall Street. “We got to change that. We got to put this back in a lane where there is genuine oversight, where the cowboys can’t take the risk we have to pay for,” Biden said, bringing himself more in line with Warren’s views.
Of course there are also differences in their approach to health care reform which would need to be adjusted on both sides – both for good policy and also for appeal to the general electorate.
But it would sure be interesting if we had a Biden-Warren ticket.