Posted: Oct. 9, 2003
AT LEAST ONE BIDEN IS
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
prospects for Valerie Biden Owens dimmed considerably when her
brother-the-senator decided not to run, but now it appears that she
won't be sitting this one out, after all.
Owens, whose campaign work
in Delaware turned her into a political consultant in her own right,
is on the verge of inking a deal that would sign up Joe Slade White
& Co., the firm where she is the executive vice president, to handle
media advertising for Wesley K. Clark, the retired general who made
a dramatic late entry into the Democratic field.
"I want to make sure a
Democrat wins, just like Joe does, and this is the Democrat who
looked at us," Owens said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Whether Owens' presence in
Clark's campaign will have any effect on her older brother's
forthcoming decision to endorse a presidential candidate is unknown.
U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. previously has said he is leaning
toward either Clark or U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry among the nine
Democrats seeking the nomination to run against President George W.
Bush and the Republicans in 2004.
"Joe's not anointed any of
these guys or dis-anointed any of them," Owens said. "If he's
decided where he's going, he's not telling anybody."
Still, Owens does not kid
herself about the importance of her family connection. "To the
extent we're even at the the table, it's because of Joe Biden," she
Owens branched out her
campaign work beyond running her brother's campaigns -- the one for
New Castle County Council in 1970, the presidential bid for 1988 and
his six senatorial races from 1972 to 2002 -- six years ago. She
hired Joe Slade White & Co. for the 1996 senatorial race, and
afterwards White asked her to join his firm. It took some
persuading, but she eventually did.
White, whose home office is
in upstate New York, got his start in national politics with the
presidential campaign of George S. McGovern in 1972, the same year
that Biden, as a 29-year-old upstart, was winning his improbable
race to knock off U.S. Sen. J. Caleb Boggs, a revered Republican
workhorse, in one of the greatest upsets in Delaware politics.
White's clients, in addition
to Biden, have included Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, regarded
as a rising star in the Democratic Party, as well as former Alaska
Gov. Tony Knowles, now running for the U.S. Senate, and retired U.S.
Sens. John H. Glenn Jr. of Ohio and Lloyd M. Bentsen of Texas.
Owens is not the only
campaign operative to gravitate toward Clark since Biden announced
in August he would pass up the race. Ron Klain, a lawyer who once
worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee that Biden chaired, is a
political strategist who was involved with the Clinton-Gore campaign
and was set to play a central role with Biden. Now he is part of
Clark's inner circle.
While moving ahead with
Clark's campaign, Owens concedes she still gets that tug of wishing
she were running a Biden presidential operation.
"In the abstract, I do," she
said. "There's nobody in the world like my brother. Joe made a
decision that was right for him at the time, and if it's right for
him at the time, it's right for me."
And who knows? Maybe the
2004 election could be a prelude for the presidential race Owens
really wants to do.
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