Helton: Is Iowa and the country sidin’ with Biden?

He has a lot of appeal with certain Iowans and Democrats, but it’ll won’t be easy for the former vice president to move to the top of the ticket and into the White House.

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Helton: Is Iowa and the country sidin’ with Biden?

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Cedar Rapids Early Vote Rally at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The event featured remarks from Iowa Democratic Candidate for Governor Fred Hubbell, Iowa First Congressional District candidate Abby Finkenauer, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Cedar Rapids Early Vote Rally at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The event featured remarks from Iowa Democratic Candidate for Governor Fred Hubbell, Iowa First Congressional District candidate Abby Finkenauer, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Cedar Rapids Early Vote Rally at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The event featured remarks from Iowa Democratic Candidate for Governor Fred Hubbell, Iowa First Congressional District candidate Abby Finkenauer, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Cedar Rapids Early Vote Rally at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The event featured remarks from Iowa Democratic Candidate for Governor Fred Hubbell, Iowa First Congressional District candidate Abby Finkenauer, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Elijah Helton, Opinions Columnist

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Thursday’s campaign announcement was the big one Democrats have been waiting for with either excitement or dispassion: Former Vice President Joe Biden is officially running for president of the United States.

By no means is this a surprise for those who have followed the 2020 campaign in any capacity. Biden had long hinted at his plans to run despite some speculation that his delay in announcement may evolve into a choice to stay out of the race entirely, similar to his decision to not run in 2016. But this cycle’s Biden was more assertive. “My intention from the beginning was to be the last person to announce. Give everybody else their day, then I get a shot, and then off to the races,” he told reporters earlier this month.

So, he’s running, and barring a late entry from the likes of Georgia politician Stacey Abrams or Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, the field is set for another long primary season. Is the Democratic Party ready for someone who isn’t an old, white moderate, or is Biden’s long career an asset toward a winning campaign of building consensus? Let’s look at his interparty competition first.

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How could he win the nomination?

Biden’s primary message is a pretty simple one: “I’m the one who can beat President Trump.” He sees himself as the consensus candidate that most of the party and country can get behind.

It’s more than nine months until Iowa caucuses, and I’m already tired of talking about the “crowded field,” but Biden’s status as a national figure is unparalleled among Democratic presidential hopefuls. The former vice president has some real popularity in his party as he leads basically every primary poll. That’s a real advantage even if it’s “just name recognition.”

Biden’s moderate policy stances are another characteristic that appeals to some members of his party. Even with the rise of the left among Democrats, 34 percent of them identify as moderate, according to Gallup, , and 13 percent say they’re conservative. With others such as Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., pushing further-left views, the voice of more centrist voters is largely unspoken for in the primary thus far.

However, many see Biden as a controversial candidate. His inappropriate conduct with women and former “tough on crime” policies from his time in the Senate have been been discussed before in The Daily Iowan. Even if the moderate wing of the party likes Biden, they might feel better going with a similar but younger white man such as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas.

Biden isn’t the capital-f Frontrunner, but he’s undoubtedly in the top tier of Democratic candidates. It’s going to take considerable effort to push him out of the race.

How could he beat President Trump?

Biden hopes to be viewed as the mature voice of reason After all, he has mused publicly about his taking then-nominee Trump “behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” Biden later he regrets saying that, but it hardly sounds like he’s always the mature, reasonable one.

Adolescent antics aside, the matchup between two white men in their 70s has the potential to turn off some members of the younger generation, which works to the incumbent’s advantage. But what Biden may lose in diverse Democrats, he should gain in highly educated white moderates — a group that has recently moved away from the Republicans.

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I’m not going to overly speculate about what a Trump-Biden election would look like, but Biden’s popularity in Pennsylvania and the rest of the Rust Belt should be easier to flip back to blue with the “Scrappy Kid from Scranton” on top of the ticket.

But if Biden wants get in the ring with Trump, he first has to get on the fight card.