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Eye On Candidates
October 6, 2015

Biden Appears Ready to Enter Race

Several articles in the last day or two have all reported a single story – Vice President Joe Biden appears ready to enter the race, with a decision possible if not likely by this weekend. From Politico:

Exclusive: Biden eyes weekend decision

He’s finally close. Confidants of Vice President Joe Biden expect him to make a decision next weekend, or shortly thereafter, on whether to launch an epic battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Several people who have visited Biden recently said he seems to be leaning “yes.”

“Nothing he has heard in the past couple of months has deterred him,” said one Democrat close to the process.

While the story suggests upfront his answer will be “yes,” numerous persons quoted in the story seemed to throw cold water on the idea:

One longtime friend said the long windup — and the fact that no staff has been hired — tells its own story.

“If you’re going to run, you run,” the friend said. “Every time he pushes back a decision, that’s the ultimate tell.”

A third recent Biden visitor said: “I can’t see how he can wake up one morning and think some big tidal wave sweeps him in. The raw politics just aren’t there.”

While the article itself leaves open both possibilities, two other Politico articles this morning suggest there may be something to the expectation by some that Biden will enter the race. First up is a story indicating that Biden himself “leaked” to the press that his dying son urged him to run:

Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.

Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.

According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because "the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”

“Leaked” is in quotes because the word suggests far more calculation and intent than may have been the case – Biden had just lost his son, and it’s not hard to believe he was simply talking about his final days and hours with him without thought of the political ramifications (as the Leadership Project for America profile of Biden explains, he has a “propensity for off-the-cuff remarks”).

Intended or not, Biden’s remarks had an effect, the article says:

It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.

But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.

And as another article in Politico this morning explains, plenty of people are calling, to the point where campaign staff résumés are being solicited:

Joe Biden allies are moving into high gear to prepare for a potential 2016 bid — collecting resumes for potential campaign staffers, assembling fundraising lists and referring public endorsements to his political team.

The effort comes as Biden confidants expect a decision from the vice president about whether he'll jump into the race to come as soon as next weekend, or shortly thereafter….

Eager would-be staffers have been reaching out to people throughout the Biden orbit, some of whom have gotten dozens of resumes. Others have been interviewing with people affiliated with Draft Biden. Some of those people have left the discussions with the impression that they’re in touch directly with the prospective campaign, and that they’re being lined up for staff jobs.

In 1987, the politically oriented comic strip Doonesbury had a strip dubbed “Waiting for Mario,” a play on Waiting for Godot and in reference to then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and his long-drawn-out decision over whether to run for president. The Biden saga is in some ways reminiscent of Cuomo’s process, but it looks like an answer may be coming soon.