Barack Obama probably enjoyed Joe Biden's aggressive performance in last night's debate, which was designed to fire up loyal Democrats demoralized by the president's weak showing in his outing last week. But among Democrats, I suspect there was one viewer with mixed feelings: Hillary Clinton. If she's contemplating a run for president in 2016, she may have to contend with a formidable opponent in Biden.
This was Biden's last vice presidential debate -- and, maybe, the start of a presidential race. It's safe to say he has never stood higher in the estimation of Democrats than he does this morning. If the ticket wins, Biden can persuasively claim a significant share of the credit for reversing the slide that began when Obama debated Mitt Romney.
Biden has run twice for president, and both times, he had no luck gaining traction with the party faithful. In 2008, he was humiliated in the Democratic race, getting less than 1 percent of the vote in Iowa and 0.2 percent in New Hampshire.
It had to gall him that all his knowledge and experience were nothing compared to the luminescence of Obama, whom he had criticized for his inexperience. But he accepted his fate, joined the ticket, campaigned vigorously and became a loyal (if sometimes unpredictable) subordinate.
Now, after four years of being the butt of jokes for his verbal blunders, Biden has newfound credibility with the rank-and-file of his party. If he wants to try again in 2016, he can hope they won't forget what he did last night.
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