Biden's Backers Create First TV Ad

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In presidential politics, one of the most effective forms of attack is to shred a laudatory attribute most prized by an opponent. John Kerry was proud of his military service. Mitt Romney imagined his business acumen was a plus. Their detractors spent millions of dollars to recast those selling points, effectively sullying the candidates’ narratives.

In the case of Vice President Biden, a man still mulling his 2016 options, the attributes that put the shine on his public halo have included honesty, credibility and the depth of his sorrow after losing his son, Beau, to cancer in May. Then along came an article that reported Biden, with savvy political maneuvering, confided to New York Times journalist Maureen Dowd last summer before her Aug. 1 column  that Beau urged him to seek the presidency a third time. Politico’s headline was “Biden Himself Leaked Word of his Son’s Dying Wish,” and the article’s sub-headline was “The vice president is mourning. He’s also calculating.”

The information, pegged to anonymous sources, undercut Biden’s assertions of unblinking sensitivities to his family’s pain, authenticity, guilelessness, and a rollercoaster of indecision about “doing the right thing.”

Overnight, Biden’s spokesman called the article “categorically false,” but did not comment about whether Biden spoke to Dowd before she wrote her column. Separately, Draft Biden, an independent super PAC that is raising money for a possible Biden presidential race, created its first cable television ad designed to help repair the damage and urge the vice president to challenge the Democratic field, which is led by Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The ad is titled “My Redemption,” and weaves Biden’s words during a commencement speech he delivered at Yale University last spring with images of his family members and career in public service. In that speech, Biden encouraged young people to test themselves regardless of setbacks, and to make the world a better place. Without discussing his son’s long battle with cancer, the vice president referenced the deaths of his wife and daughter after an automobile accident when Biden was in his 20s. His sons Beau and Hunter survived the crash, which occurred weeks after their father had been elected to represent Delaware in the Senate.

“The incredible bond I have with my children is the gift I’m not sure I would have had, had I not been through what I went through. But by focusing on my sons, I found my redemption. Many people have gone through things like that,” Biden says in the 90-second spot.

The ad, which will air on national cable, concludes with the words “Joe, run” across the screen.

Biden, who will meet Wednesday with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office to discuss pending issues, has not publicly commented about his political intentions in recent days, but aides indicated he has no plans to participate in the Oct. 13 Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, the first in a series.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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