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What a Warren endorsement would mean for Biden

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Vice President Joe Biden continues to weigh a potential entry into the 2016 race, Bernie Sanders in South Carolina trying to reach beyond his base, and how is Donald Trump causing the GOP candidates to adjust?

    It’s a perfect time for Politics Monday.

    I’m joined by Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome back to you both.

    So, we’re standing — sitting next to…

  • AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:

    Joe Biden staring at us.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    He’s watching us.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The stories continue every day. He’s seriously taking a look, The Wall Street Journal today, Amy, saying he’s leaning toward it. He met over the weekend with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. What is that all about?

  • AMY WALTER:

    Right.

    Elizabeth Warren, of course, is so very popular among the liberal progressive base of the Democratic Party. To get her endorsement, if Joe Biden were to get that, that would be a huge coup. And it would give him some traction in a race where, right now, there is no obvious lane for him.

    You know, there is nothing that really sets him apart in this race of Hillary and Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, in that he’s older than Hillary Clinton is, he’s a white man, he doesn’t have a natural constituency in the way that Hillary Clinton does among women and among African-American voters.

    So he’s got to try to find the place there. An Elizabeth Warren endorsement certainly would help that.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But what would she bring?

    Tamara, what is it about her? We know she has got her own following.

  • TAMARA KEITH, NPR:

    And I have say that Hillary Clinton actually also met with Elizabeth Warren back in February, when she was considering getting into the race.

    So, everyone is going to Elizabeth Warren, meeting with Elizabeth Warren, in part because a lot of people wanted Elizabeth Warren to run for president. And she brings that sort of progressive credential that a lot of people are looking for.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, would she — is it possible he was asking her is she has completely ruled out running herself?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    I have no idea.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    And here’s the thing. Like, his people won’t even officially confirm that it happened. They say they’re not confirming it.

    So it’s — this is just one of very many things that show that he is seriously thinking about it. He is having the conversations that a candidate who wants to be a Democratic candidate needs to have.

  • AMY WALTER:

    And that’s a great point, because I don’t know that Elizabeth Warren is going to endorse. To be very clear, I don’t think that this meeting meant that she is going to come out and endorse him.

    But it says — it is a sign of seriousness on his part.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You were saying it’s a tougher path for him. What would be the Joe Biden path, Amy?

  • AMY WALTER:

    Well, that’s a very good question.

    There is a lot of talk within the Biden campaign about, we would reach out to that constituency that is comfortable with Joe Biden, the more blue-collar, working-class Democrats. He would also go to a place like South Carolina, where he’s well-known and well-liked, especially among the African-American community.

    However, when you look at the constituency right now — I feel like I say this every time we come on here, but the Hillary Clinton constituency is still very supportive of her and they’re very big. When you look at her support among women, among non-white voters, it’s significant.

    And the only way for Joe Biden to break into that is to go after her and after those voters. I don’t know that that’s something he’s going to want to do.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    That’s still a lot of ifs, Tamara, even with all the e-mail controversy.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Big ifs. There are big ifs about whether Joe Biden really wants to get into this or ultimately will get into this.

    His stock is very high right now. And because of the e-mail controversy, there is this angst among some Democrats that I’m sure Joe Biden is hearing. People, especially establishment Democrats in South Carolina, are very concerned. And I have been told that he’s hearing from them.

    So I think that’s part of what’s going on. But, yes, there is a giant if, if Vice President Biden wants to go through this again. He’s run twice before.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, speaking of South Carolina and speaking of the Democrats, the other big name is Bernie Sanders.

    Amy, he was in South Carolina over the weekend. You know, we described it as reaching beyond his base. The point is made that the crowd who turned out for him was a largely white crowd. South Carolina Democrats are majority African-American.

    What is his path in the states where blacks make up a significant part of the Democrats?

  • AMY WALTER:

    Well, and that’s what he did this weekend is he went and he went and spoke to groups and communities, saying, I’m going to learn about this, I’m going to do a lot more reaching out to the African-American community.

    Part of the problem with Bernie — for Bernie Sanders is he doesn’t have a relationship, not just in South Carolina, but with the African-American community writ large. Everybody knows who Hillary Clinton is. Everybody knows who Joe Biden is, and they have long, deep relationships.

    Bernie Sanders is starting from scratch. He’s a senator from Vermont, not exactly the most diverse state out there.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But he’s started to make some policy statements.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes, absolutely.

    Bernie Sanders came out with a pretty strong statement on criminal justice, something that the Black Lives Matter movement wanted him to do, and they’re now praising him for doing that. He has had a meeting in South Carolina with Black Lives Matter activists and others. So, he’s making the movements. He’s trying, he’s working on it, but the people that showed up for his rally didn’t look like the Democratic voters of South Carolina. They looked like the Democratic voters of New Hampshire.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, no political discussion is complete these days without a question about Donald Trump.

    And he’s now been, Amy, in this race long enough for us to begin to try to get a handle on the effect he’s having on the other Republicans running. What are you seeing? Is anything shaping up?

  • AMY WALTER:

    I think it’s definitely true. There’s been a Trump bump, and candidates have reacted to that and some have been helped and some have been hurt by this.

    I think the person most hurt by this has been Scott Walker. He was the candidate who, going into the summer, was considered the front-runner. He was the conservative. He was the outsider. That’s been taken away by Trump.

    Jeb Bush has been helped in some ways because all the oxygen has been taken away from his other rivals, whether it’s Walker, Marco Rubio, the other conservatives. It’s all on Trump now.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What do you see of the effect on the others?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    So, a colleague of mine interviewed someone at the Iowa State Fair who said about Scott Walker that he sort of blanded himself off the map.

    Meanwhile, standing right next…

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    New verb.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes, blanded.

    Standing right next to Donald Trump, who is anything but bland. I think that one thing with Donald Trump is, those of us who live inside of the Beltway have tried to figure him out based on sort of the party lines that we understand. And I think Donald Trump is sort of breaking through the traditional party lines. And, in reality, probably a lot of voters and a lot of people who support him don’t actually fit clearly into a Democratic bucket or a Republican bucket.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Which is not only a challenge for political reporters. It’s a challenge for the other candidates…

  • AMY WALTER:

    That’s right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    … running against him, trying to figure out what space is left for them.

    All right, it’s Politics Monday. It’s Amy Walter and Tamara Keith.

    It’s great to have you both. Thank you.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Thanks.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    See you next Monday.

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