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Barry Brendel still remembers the best political speech he ever heard.
Joe Biden delivered it in Atlantic City in 1984 on the invitation of the New Jersey Democratic Party.
Brendel wanted then-Senator Biden to get in the prez primary. Polling by Pat Caddell showed a beatable
former Vice President Walter Mondale, and in the lead up to the 1984 primary season Brendel helped furnish a platform for Biden – at the annual Democratic State Convention – to make a national-sized statement and generate runway room for a campaign.
Biden more than delivered.
“It was the greatest speech I ever heard,” Brendel said. “I’ve never been as moved by a speech as I was by that speech by Biden.”
The U.S. Senator from Delaware looked like the perfect insurgent candidate to carry out the formulations of the Caddell memo. But then he suddenly announced that he wasn’t going to run.
“He didn’t think it was time,” Brendel said of the future vice president.
Instead it was Gary Hart who entered the contest, becoming the progressive wing of the party’s darling to undo the inevitability of Mondale.
Biden would run for president in 1988, 2008 and 2020.
He struck out the first two times, and tonight, as Biden’s presidential hopes teetered on the brink after an awful showing in New Hampshire and he delivered an “it ain’t over speech” in South Carolina, Brendel was ecstatic.
He’s the vice chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign in New Jersey – the progressive he was always looking for, looking very strong now as the nation’s attention turns to the second primary state.
Sanders – in a dogfight with former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg – won New Hampshire.
“It’s about what I expected,” Brendel told InsiderNJ. “Bernie will finish first or second in every state because he has organization and infrastructure.
“I seriously think Bernie’s going to win South Carolina,” said the Sanders NJ Vice Chair. “At least three candidates that are going to try to compete there have stories that will resonate very badly down there.”
What happened to Biden, the star from Atlantic City in 1984?
“I don’t know what it is about Joe,” Brendel said. “He was doing great in ’88 until he came apart. He never adjusted to the time after that. He he had a message from ’84 to ’88 and he was saying it extremely eloquently, but after that he never found his footing. No one ever wins as the surrogate for somebody else.”
For more on Brendel’s adventures in the 1984 presidential Democratic Primary, please go here.