Post endorsement in the Democratic presidential primary.
Just one thing should be on the minds of Florida Democrats as they vote in the March 17 presidential primary: How to beat Donald Trump in November.
That means picking the candidate who, even if not your first choice during this long campaign season, is the best bet to win.
That choice has become much easier after the clarifying events of the past week. In rapid fashion, the fire that started in South Carolina and roared through Super Tuesday has culled the recently unwieldy Democratic field to just two leading contenders.
Florida and its 219 delegates is now positioned to have a substantial say in naming the nominee.
They should choose Joseph R. Biden.
The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board is endorsing the former vice president because, in our judgment, he has a far better chance than Sen. Bernie Sanders of winning the key battleground states not just in the primaries to come, but in November. In Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.
And of course, Florida. Democrats would, for all intents and purposes, cede the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes to the Republicans with Sanders as their standard bearer. Between the self-proclaimed "Democratic socialist’s" ill-informed comments about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and public snub of AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee), Sanders would essentially start out in a huge electoral hole.
Biden has the best chance of helping down-ballot candidates for Senate, U.S. House and state legislatures, which Democrats desperately need to gain even an inch of the progress that every Democrat, including Sanders supporters, wishes to see.
With Biden, none of those candidates will be burdened with a "socialist" label to defend. Instead, competitive races in states like Arizona, Maine and Colorado will give Democrats a real shot of flipping the Senate.
And that will be absolutely vital, not just to progressive legislation, but more importantly, to the appointment of federal judges. This is how Democratic voters see to it that the clock is not rolled back on health care, abortion rights, voting rights, workers’ rights and environmental protection.
Biden has the best chance of increasing turnout from the center and center-left of the Democratic Party. Ironically, unprecedented turnout was supposed to be Sanders’ strength. But the promised surge of first-time voters hasn’t materialized in the primaries, except maybe in California. On the contrary, ever since South Carolina, it is Biden who has inspired Democrats to swell the voting totals.
Biden has the best chance of unifying the party and the nation. Sanders and his supporters are admirably fervent but leave little room for the less-than-fervent. As one longtime Florida Democrat told the Post Editorial Board: "One does not build a coalition by spitting in the eye of party leaders, calling people names who don't support you and accusing competitors who decide to endorse others of being unfair."
Biden, on the other hand, is attracting a growing array of former rivals because they know him to be a solid team player, fully capable of building the broad coalition that it will take to defeat Trump. Biden, and only Biden, can draw in much-needed independents. And he can draw those "future former Republicans," as Pete Buttigieg elegantly calls them.
It is true that Biden is a problematic to be charitable campaigner. At times, he looks every bit of his 77 years of age. And he hasn’t yet offered a good answer for the false accusations involving his son, Hunter Biden, and the Ukranian energy company Burisma.
What’s more, in 36 years in the Senate, Biden collected considerable baggage: votes for the 1995 crime bill and the Iraq War, the treatment of Anita Hill. Like other centrists, he at times backed benefit cuts for Social Security and Medicare as part of wider bipartisan deals to shore up Social Security’s finances or balance the federal budget ideas that went nowhere.
At other times, however, Biden voted to protect benefits. In any case, Biden now says he supports expanding benefits, though not as aggressively as Sanders.
More important than all this, Biden has a big and open heart a powerful contrast to a president incapable of empathy or a deep interest in anything beyond his own personal interests. Biden has been a leader on gun control. He shepherded the Affordable Care Act for President Barack Obama. He was quicker than Obama to support same-sex marriage.
His longtime leadership of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee ensures that, as president, he would quickly restore America’s standing among free nations while taking the world’s dictators to task. He would shore up NATO and other vital alliances. He would quickly revive our membership in the Paris Climate Accords.
Supporters of Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren who worry that their liberal dreams would be shattered by a Biden presidency, shouldn’t. Biden will undoubtedly run on the most progressive platform any major party has produced since ... well, maybe ever.
Biden will fight for the most far-reaching health-coverage law possible. He’ll address climate change and fair-minded immigration policy. And while he doesn’t talk much about inequality or bash the billionaire class, he’ll increase taxes on the uber-wealthy and corporations just the same.
Floridians can make a real impact in the Democratic primary process.
They can give Biden a convincing victory in this vital swing state. They can increase his delegate lead, and help extinguish any potential claims by the Sanders camp of being cheated out of the nomination. They can make the day come sooner that the Democratic Party unites behind the candidate that the Trump campaign fears most.