Clinton faced a challenge similar to that which Biden would face: how to win back blue-collar Democrats who had defected to the Republicans. He won the nomination by campaigning as a new type of Democrat — someone who shared the party’s traditional support for a strong government while recognizing that rising crime and welfare abuse were real problems. Biden’s calling card is that he can win back the same type of voters who defected to back Donald Trump in 2016, enabling Democrats to reclaim some of the former “blue wall” states in the Upper Midwest whose surprise defection elected Trump.
Clinton could have done the traditional thing and picked someone associated with the old Democratic Party as his running mate. That would have reassured those people that they wouldn’t be shunted aside during his administration. Instead, Clinton doubled down on his approach and picked someone who, like him, was a young, Southern reform Democrat: Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee.
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.