Updated: Feb 29, 2020
NFN editor-in-chief Bob Gatty describes the journey he took in making his decision to back former Vice President Joe Biden for President.. Sixth in a series by NFN writers about their choices.
My journey to decision has been wild and circuitous as my thinking has changed several times after seeing nearly all of the major candidates in person and considering every factor in play. I started out backing former Vice President Joe Biden, and after all is said and done, I've come back. It's Joe.
Early on, when the debate stage was so crowded you needed a scorecard to tell who was who, I began thinking that in the end the nominee would -- and should -- be Biden.
But over time, and after seeing Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker at appearances in South Carolina, I began to waiver. First leaning towards Harris, I also liked much of Booker's message about the need to return civility to this nation and bring people together. And then, when Harris dropped out, while disappointed, my thinking was that a Biden-Harris ticket would be great. I still feel that way.
But along the way, I met Mayor Pete Buttigieg when he came to Conway, SC, and recall shaking his hand after he spoke on the bank of the Waccamaw River and talked about the threat of climate change along with his other agenda issues. I told him, "Some day, Mr. Mayor, I may be shaking your hand and calling you Mr. President." He smiled and said, "Thanks. I hope so."
Someday, Pete, that might happen. You are an incredibly bright and capable candidate and your time will come. Perhaps you will make huge contributions in the House or Senate and then, soon, it will be your time. You will be prepared.
Klobuchar & Warren
The Democratic Party also has been blessed to have other outstanding female candidates in the field, and two still remain -- Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.(Tulsi Gabbard is still a candidate, but I discount her.) I like Amy better than Warren because I think her common sense, practical approach to the issues makes more sense than Warren's "take no prisoners" approach.
But I don't believe either can take on Donald Trump successfully, despite their claims to the contrary, and that is a major factor in my thinking.
At one point, I even considered businessman Tom Steyer, whom I also covered at an event in South Carolina.
I liked Steyer's outspoken criticism of Trump, his record of working outside the system to use his wealth for the benefit of those in need and support young people. I also like that he started the huge "Need to Impeach" movement, with which I wholeheartedly agreed, but also predicted then that he was really planning a presidential run.
I believe Steyer is smart and knowledgeable. But he doesn't have a prayer. It would be better if he would use his wealth to help Democratic candidates for the House and Senate in tough races than on what seems like a vanity run for the White House. The same can be said for the former Republican mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Later in the process I began to seriously consider Sen. Bernie Sanders, having heard him in person twice and being impressed with his commitment and passion, which has been transmitted to his millions of followers -- including young voters who will be the future of our country.
But I fundamentally disagree with Sanders on his core proposal, Medicare for All.
Yes, healthcare is a human right. Yes, one day a single payer system that eliminates the profit motive from healthcare decisions likely will be enacted. But I disagree with the idea that Americans should be forced into such a system and that a vast industry, which employs thousands, if not millions of people, should be virtually wiped out.
Moreover, unless his election also brings with it a revolution within the Senate, there is virtually no chance such a plan would be passed because it would be blocked by Republicans in the Senate. And that would result in years of political bickering and deal making, with nothing being done to take care of the millions who still are uninsured or underinsured.
I believe Biden's approach of improving the Affordable Care Act, providing a public option for those who choose it and bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, makes the most sense. It avoids disruption, is more cost effective, while providing coverage and care for more of the current uninsured and underinsured.
Likewise, despite the wild popularity of free college tuition for all and an end to student debt among young voters, I disagree that the children of millionaires should get their higher education at taxpayers' expense.
I like Bidens' approach of covering the cost of community college, a move that would help many people get a great start on their education and prepare themselves for the future.
I also like his plan to vastly improve funding for historically black colleges and universities, so more students can be served and those incredibly important institutions can be strengthened.
And, I like the fact that Biden has strong support within the African American community, which without, Trump will be reelected. He has demonstrated his commitment to African Americans and other minorities over his many years in service. So the slogan, "We Know Joe. Joe Knows Us" rings true.
While I realize that Biden is closing in on 80 and seems to stumble sometimes when he speaks, especially in the debates, when you see him in person it's clear that he still has game. Last night at an event here in South Carolina, he spoke for nearly two hours, clearly recalling details, forcefully making his points, and demonstrating the depth of his experience.
We have been suffering through nearly four years of foreign affairs idiocy with Trump, and our nation desperately needs a commander in chief who understands the importance of diplomacy and respect, while effectively dealing with foreign governments. And, one who will not kowtow to Putin or play kissy face with Kim Jong-Un.
One voter told me as he waited in line to get into the Biden town hall meeting last night that we need a president who will know what to do and how to do it on day one. Joe Biden, he said, can do that. I agree.
Yes, I also agree that America needs a new generation of leadership, and under normal circumstances I might be drawn to Pete or Amy. But in this era of Donald Trump, I am convinced that most of all we need someone with credibility, likability; somewhat with demonstrated knowledge, and the experience and international respect to bridge the gap until that day comes.
I believe that person is Joe Biden. My hope is that his vice presidential selection, should he prevail, will be someone who, when his or her day comes, can help lead us into the future -- on a path that will have been made much easier by President Joe Biden.