It’s nearly 40 years since Bill Clinton became “the comeback kid”, pulling off a second-place finish in New Hampshire and going on to become a two-term president. Joe Biden is now being called the “comeback grandpa”.
It is a fitting moniker. Until the South Carolina vote on February 29, Mr Biden had never won a Democratic presidential primary even though he ran for president in 1988 and 2008. After Super Tuesday, March 3, he has won at least nine.
Mr Biden’s strong uptick began when he was endorsed by Jim Clyburn, the respected civil rights activist and South Carolina congressman. As the non-Sanders candidate who takes moderate policy positions, is supported by African-Americans and older voters – and from today, March 4, by billionaire Mike Bloomberg – Mr Biden is having quite a moment.
Ed Luce of the Financial Times says the Biden campaign has had a “Lazarus-like re-emergence”. Quite so, especially when it was longer than four days dead.
So, what happens next? No one can say for sure if Mr Biden will win a majority – rather than a plurality – of delegates. Accordingly, it’s not clear if he will have a coronation rather than a contested convention in Milwaukee in July.
But, Mr Biden’s sudden surge is a reminder of something we barely thought still existed in the age of Trump: the chance for serious politics as opposed to entertainment to take centrestage.