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Why Joe Biden should delay his decision

It's the political question du jour: Will Vice President Joe Biden run or not?

Perhaps a more intriguing question is whether Biden is hurting or helping a future bid by delaying his announcement.




Joe Biden
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Joe Biden

From an organizational perspective, we already know Biden needs money and bodies to get him on the ballots, push his message and motivate voters, so every delayed hour hurts him with infrastructure.

But from a media perspective, the ambiguity on his intentions could work in Biden's favor. It gives him an opportunity to stay above the fray and out of the debate while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders continue to take punches from the right.

When your enemies are fighting, step aside and let them battle it out. By not formally entering the race, Biden maintains a mystery that keeps him in the conversation without having to enter the ring.


Biden is in an enviable political position because he doesn't need money or time to brand himself — like Donald Trump and Clinton. Americans already have their opinions of Biden, what he stands for and his accomplishments. He just needs a platform to explain where he will take America.

Here's another reason why Biden benefits from delaying his decision.

Most politicians are most popular before they announce. Remember Clinton's poll numbers after she left the State Department but before she announced she was running for president? A Gallup poll showed her favorability ratings were at 66 percent in 2012.

Who knows where Biden's favorable ratings will go once he announces, but if history is a guide, they will likely fall from his current 51 percent that came from a Suffolk/USA Today poll late last month.


But what about next week's Democratic debate? Doesn't Biden need to participate?

Biden can actually pre-empt the debate's coverage and insert himself into the news conversation by announcing his intentions on Sunday, two days before the contest. An afternoon announcement will lead every news program, and give Biden all of the attention just as voters are starting to tune in for the first Democratic debate.

But should Biden take this approach and announce he is running for president, he needs to explain with fervor why he is entering the race. Does he now doubt whether Clinton can win? Is he losing faith in the current candidates? Why the sudden change of heart when a month ago, he admitted he didn't think he had the emotional stamina to be a presidential candidate following the death of his son Beau.

As for skipping the first debate, Biden can reinforce that he knows the issues, but he needs the first few days of his campaign to focus on bringing his team together to get him on the ballots. If Biden's speech is inspiring, it will motivate voters to get him on their state ballots.



And what if Biden waits until after the Democratic debate to announce? He risks igniting more controversy — something he averts by announcing it next weekend. Many political pundits will question whether a poor debate performance by the other candidates led to Biden's change of heart. The reporter questions will remain similar, but they will take on a tone that the highest profile event so far helped change Biden's mind.

But most important — regardless of timing — if Biden does decide to run, all of the media will pontificate why he is the underdog. It's yet another admirable position for Biden. Just ask Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Clinton — the front-runner takes too many hits, and in a long race, those jabs could slowly bring you down.


Commentary by Mark Macias, head of Macias PR, a global public relations firm that has run media and branding campaigns for politicians, tech start-ups, financial firms, nonprofits and companies. He's also author of the book, "Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media." Follow him on Twitter @markmacias.