Joe Biden's not running (yet), but an ad promoting him is(Read article summary)
The 'Draft Biden' super PAC is running an emotional 90-second ad whose final frame shows two small words that could transform the 2016 race: 'Run, Joe.'
He already has solid support in the polls, an enterprising super PAC, staff or volunteers in all 50 states, and now his supporters have released an emotional campaign-style TV ad to promote his as-yet-theoretical candidacy.
The only thing missing from a Joe Biden presidential campaign is the candidate.
That hasn't stopped the Draft Biden movement from launching a $250,000, 90-second ad set to air on CNN in the run-up to the Oct. 13 debate – a debate that Vice President Biden can't participate in unless he declares an official candidacy.
Entitled "My Redemption," the mostly black-and-white ad uses audio from an emotional speech Biden delivered at Yale University in May. In it, he recounts the 1972 car accident that left his wife and daughter dead, and his two sons in critical condition.
"The incredible bond I have with my children is a gift I’m not sure I would’ve had had I not been through what I went through," Biden says as old photos of his family show onscreen. "By focusing on my sons, I found my redemption."
Biden gave that speech just days before his son, Beau, died.
He pivots from tragedy to optimism in the speech, ending the ad on a hopeful note.
"You’re on the cusp of some of the most astonishing breakthroughs in the history of mankind – scientific, technological, socially," he says. "It’ll be up to you in this changing world to translate those unprecedented capabilities into a greater measure of happiness and meaning not just for yourself, for the world around you."
The ad concludes with a simple appeal: "Joe, run."
Veteran Democratic political ad maker Mark Putnam produced the unusually-long, movie-like spot.
"We're thinking of this almost in the same way you would think of a Super Bowl ad," said Josh Alcorn, a Draft Biden adviser and political adviser to Beau Biden before his death, to NPR. "There's a lot to it. There's a long story to tell."
The objectives, presumably, are to spur a conversation, generate more interest in a Biden run, and perhaps, demonstrate that there is financial support among Democratic donors for a late Biden entry in the race.
The group behind the ad is Draft Biden, the super PAC founded to urge Biden to run in 2016.
Launched in March in the Chicago living room of 27-year-old William Pierce, a young political operative who is now the group's executive director, Draft Biden has three goals: re-introduce voters to Biden and his accomplishments, build a grassroots organization, and raise money.
It has ramped up fast: despite their candidate's apparent reluctance, Draft Biden has volunteers in all 50 states, staff in early primary states, more than 200,000 signatures on its petition urging Biden to run, and nearly $3 million in its coffers.
Its fundraising arm includes some of Obama's former bundlers, like Yolanda "Cookie" Parker, a Los Angeles technology executive who raised more than $2 million for the president's two campaigns, reports the Washington Post.
That's an impressive level of support and organization for a candidate who hasn't actually entered the race.
Citing his family's grief over son Beau's death in May, Biden has said he won't rush his decision and will base it on what's best for his family. He's expected to make a decision in the coming weeks.
Should he decide to run, he'll start with some support in the polls.
A Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Thursday showed Biden in third place among Democratic contenders, behind possible rivals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
But it also showed Biden was the most popular of the three candidates among voters from all parties, with a favorable-unfavorable rating of 51 to 35 percent, compared with 37 to 33 percent for Sanders and 39 to 51 percent for Clinton.
"There's a thirst for someone who has his story and his empathy," Mr. Alcorn told CNN. "There is space for him in the race."