TIME

BIDEN’S LONG ROAD

The former Vice President may be the most fragile front runner in a generation
As an old-school politician in a changing party, Biden has struggled through a rocky campaign rollout

ON A WARM FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN JULY, JOE BIDEN STOOD under a tent on the banks of the Cocheco River in Dover, N.H., trying to rally a crowd of 200 behind his presidential campaign. Biden’s staff had handed him a speech and positioned teleprompters onstage. But he wasn’t in the mood to follow the script. So aides removed the prompters, and Biden tossed the printed speech aside. “I’ve got a nice speech here for you, but I’m not going to take the time,” he told the crowd. “I’m going to try to shorten this up for you.”

And off he went, literally and figuratively, pacing the lawn over the course of a 36-minute riff. Instead of focusing on policy prescriptions, such as his call to triple federal funding for low-income schools, Biden noted that his home state of Delaware has more minorities than New Hampshire. He emphasized policy proposals from the eight years he served as President Barack Obama’s loyal lieutenant: rejoining the Paris climate agreement, updating the Iran nuclear agreement, building on Obamacare. Then Biden cut to the chase. The big ideas espoused by today’s Democrats are unrealistic, he said, and his colleagues’ unwillingness to collaborate with Republicans is foolhardy. “Somehow,” he said, “being able to cooperate

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