I am just as surprised as everyone else that Vice President has declined to run for President. Even though the door was closing after the successful performances of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in last week debate, it increasingly looked like Mr. Biden was pivoting towards a run. And it would have been a good thing for the country and for the party.

Mr. Biden has a solid foot in the New Deal and Great Society, two solid pieces of the Democratic Party tradition and he is the most effective cheerleader and dealmaker for the Obama Administration. For those looking for continuity, a commitment to get something done for the wounded (even shrinking ) middle class, he represents that straight line with the party's historic image of being there for the little.

He not only speaks from his heart, he wears it on his sleeve. He has experienced overwhelming personal pain so there is a genuineness in him that simply cannot be taken away. For those who would condemn a either a limousine liberal or a bleeding heart, Mr. Biden is neither. He is the son of the working class, has deep immigrant roots and values, is committed to his family, and has a total net worth that is probably not enough to retire on comfortably.

But above all, what is missing is a message of hope, a smile, a sense that things will be okay, that we will not only survive, but that our better days are ahead. What is missing is the record of having addressed real problems that have been faced by the Obama Administration by the one person who could claim the mantle of experience. What the party is left with is one damaged frontrunner who is perhaps ethically challenged enough to divert attention from the real issues and another frontrunner who is simply to angry and one dimensional to be a credible problem-solver.

Mr. Biden said he will be out campaigning for issues that he represents and will support the "party's nominee". He made no endorsements because he must know that this nominating process is not quite over.

Joe Biden is a realist, however. Even though I think that the polling numbers would have changed a bit to help just a little, the post-debate polls offered him no real encouragement at all. He was mired in third place, in the teens, while Mrs. Clinton actually widened her lead. For him, it was just not his time.

The Democratic Party has been denied one of its most effective warriors and communicators. Mrs. Clinton now has a clearer path to the nomination but she will have hard time getting her message out through the noise of her image, her husband, her mistakes. I still think that the ticket of Joe Biden/Kirsten Gillibrand was the best chance for the Democrats. Mrs. Clinton now gives the GOP the one chance it did not have: to actually run against someone who is a lightning rod and energizes its own split base.