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Former Vice President Joe Biden stands poised this week to enter the 2020 race for the presidency, an appropriate moment to reflect on…
Biden’s ‘Greatest’ New Jersey Campaign Hits:
In the lead-up to the 1988 presidential contest, then–U.S. Senator Joe Biden anchored the Democratic State Committee’s annual convention in Atlantic City and gave what one New Jersey operative described as the “greatest speech I ever heard.” Soon after, Biden was out, his campaign stung fatally by the charge that Biden was a serial plagiarist.
On the eve of his second formal presidential bid, Biden came to New Jersey to meet with members of The Group, a cadre of powerful fundraisers with a name inspired by Mary McCarthy who gave the once over to all the main presidential candidates in the lead-up to 2008, including the Delaware senator, former U.S. Senator John Edwards, U.S. Senator Barack Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Biden made a favorable impression, but The Group decided to put their fundraising powers behind the presidential candidacy of Clinton.
A year after he helped Barack Obama win the presidency, Vice President Biden came to New Jersey to try to help Democratic Governor Jon Corzine get reelected. A month before the election, he gave a well-received rah-rah speech for Corzine at the AFL-CIO 2009 annual Legislative Conference. But Corzine would love to Republican Governor Chris Christie, 48.5-44.9%.
The bar was considerably lower this time. Once Phil Murphy secured the backing of all 21 counties ahead of the Democratic Primary for Governor, he was pretty much a lock for the job. Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno was running in defense of her work in an administration where the chief executive had a 16% job approval rating. So it was over. But not before former Vice President Biden made a September blue collar appearance on behalf of Murphy in the general election in Edison. The talk at that point was less about Murphy versus Guadagno and more about then-departing Speaker Vincent Prieto versus then-incoming Speaker Craig Coughlin. (Biden made a Lyndhurst appearance, too, on behalf of Murphy).
It was easier for old football jock Biden to play offense rather than defense. Mikie Sherrill’s robust candidacy for Congress in a backlash election year found the former vice president resurfacing in New Jersey’s District 11, at Sherrill’s side for a September fundraiser. Sherrill would go on to handily defeat her Republican opponent at the head of a New Jersey rebuke of President Donald J. Trump. Of 12 congresspeople in the New Jersey delegation, only U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) wouldd survive the onslaught.