Posted: June 13, 2003
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
There was a U.S. senator, a Democrat, with a
son named Beau. He was at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington on Friday
evening for a political fund raiser -- and a pricey one, too, with
the top contributors paying $1,000 to attend.
Only he wasn't Joseph R. Biden Jr. He was Evan
Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, and he was there to collect some Delaware
dollars for his campaign for a second term in 2004.
Biden was there, too, though. He was one of a
trio of co-hosts for Bayh. So was Thomas R. Carper, Delaware's other
Democratic senator who knew Bayh as a fellow governor before they
reconnected in Washington. So was Jack A. Markell, whose inclusion
showed that he's not expected to stay state treasurer forever.
Bayh met with about 25 people given
invitations to this low-key reception, thanking them with a quip
from the late House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, who said, "I am
touched by your presence but not as much as you've been touched by
Bayh, 47, is a household name in Indiana, the
son of former Sen. Birch Bayh. He also is coming into his own
nationally as the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, a
centrist organization. According to Congressional Quarterly's
political handbook, his politics are so moderate that he has been
called a "Republicrat."
Bayh was the picture of senatorial courtesy as
he mingled, less high-octane than Biden, less intent than Carper.
The question is what he was doing in Delaware on a muggy evening
that he could have been spending with his family, which includes
twin boys born in 1995, one of them named Nicholas and the other
named Beau, like one of Joe Biden's sons.
Bayh has $4.7 million in his campaign account.
He was elected with 64 percent of the vote in 1998 -- more than
Biden ever got -- and the Republican who wants to run against him is
a college professor who is a four-time loser for a congressional
seat and has $60,000 in the bank.
The official explanation is that Bayh is
plugging away because of what happened to his father in 1980, when
he lost to Republican Dan Quayle, later the vice president who
perhaps is remembered today more for his slipshod spelling than that
"Who thought my father would lose to Dan
Quayle?" Bayh said. "I learned from that experience never to take it
for granted, because you never know."
Then there is the other explanation. Bayh has
The Look that fellow politicians recognize, the one that says there
is more to come. Bayh made the short list when Al Gore was looking
for a running mate in 2000, and he and Biden were cooing over one
another as White House material.
"Joe Biden's been a hero of mine. I sleep
better at night knowing this man is helping to chart foreign
policy," Bayh said. "If this man were elected president of the
United States, it would be a significant upgrade."
Biden returned the compliment. "I expect he
will be a candidate for president someday, and we couldn't do a
whole lot better," he said.
At least the Delawareans didn't have to choose
between them. "I hope he will be president someday," state Sen.
Patricia M. Blevins, an Elsmere Democrat, said about Bayh. "He's
young enough that maybe we can get both."
RETURN TO ARCHIVES
RETURN TO COVER PAGE