Joe Biden withdraws from Presidential nomination race
The Delaware senator ran for president in 1988 but withdrew from the race in 1987 amid accusations that he had plagiarized from speeches by a British Labor Party leader.
He openly talked about his interest in running for president in 2004 but in the end chose not to after determining that other candidates had too much of a head start in terms of organization and fundraising.
"Now he understands it's a long march, and if he was to do it, he'd be much better prepared," said Biden spokesman Norm Kurz. "He understands you don't parachute in at the last second."
Kurz said Biden has been road-testing his message and weighing potential support with weekend appearances across the country, particularly in states won by Bush in 2004. He has spoken recently in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida. Kurz likened Biden's activities to a runner training for a track meet.
"You can't wait until the day of the race to train," he said. "He's out there, he's looking at his stopwatch, seeing if his time is good enough."
Biden pursued the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination but withdrew after it was revealed that parts of his campaign stump speech had been plagiarized from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without appropriate attribution. His 2008 presidential campaign never gained momentum, and he withdrew from the race after placing fifth in the Iowa Democratic caucus in January of that year.
By August 1987, Biden's campaign, whose messaging was confused due to staff rivalries, had begun to lag behind those of Michael Dukakis and Dick Gephardt, although he had still raised more funds than all candidates but Dukakis, and was seeing an upturn in Iowa polls. In September 1987, the campaign ran into trouble when he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party. Kinnock’s speech included the lines:
"Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?"
While Biden’s speech included the lines:
"I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I'm the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?"
Though Biden had cited Kinnock as the source for the formulation many times before, he made no reference to the original source at the August 23 Iowa State Fair debate in question or in another appearance. While political speeches often appropriate ideas and language from each other, Biden's use came under more scrutiny because he somewhat distorted his own family's background to match Kinnock's.
A few days later, Biden's plagiarism incident in law school came to light. It was also revealed that when earlier questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school, Biden had inaccurately recollected graduating in the "top half" of his class, that he had attended law school on a full scholarship, and had received three degrees in college. He had in fact earned a single B.A. with a double major in history and political science, had received a half scholarship to law school based on financial need with some additional assistance based in part upon academics, and had graduated 76th of 85 in his law school class.
The Kinnock and school revelations were magnified by the limited amount of other news about the nomination race at the time, when most of the public were not yet paying attention to any of the campaigns; Biden thus fell into what The Washington Post writer Paul Taylor described as that year's trend, a "trial by media ordeal". Biden lacked a strong demographic or political group of support to help him survive the crisis. He withdrew from the nomination race on September 23, 1987, saying his candidacy had been overrun by "the exaggerated shadow" of his past mistakes. After Biden withdrew from the race, it was revealed that the Dukakis campaign had secretly made a video showcasing the Biden–Kinnock comparison and distributed it to news outlets. Also later in 1987, the Delaware Supreme Court's Board of Professional Responsibility cleared Biden of the law school plagiarism charges regarding his standing as a lawyer, saying Biden had "not violated any rules".