The 2016 field for both parties is almost certainly set, with one key exception: Vice President Joe Biden, who continues to mull over whether to enter the race. A flurry of news stories in recent days suggest that he and his allies are making the necessary moves to join the race. The Hill reports on the Draft Biden committee’s decision to staff up in some key states:
The super-PAC organized to encourage Joe Biden to run for president has added close allies of the vice president in top early-voting states as he nears a decision on whether to launch a White House bid.
WMUR reported Wednesday that state Rep. Dan Eaton, a long-time friend of Biden’s who has served 17 terms in the New Hampshire statehouse, will become Draft Biden’s first paid staffer in the Granite State….
The Draft Biden group also announced earlier in the day that South Carolina state Sen. Gerald Malloy and former state superintendent Inez Tenenbaum will serve as co-chairmen in the Palmetto State….
In addition to the co-chairmen, Draft Biden has added four other staffers in South Carolina.
Biden’s trip to Florida yesterday is also apparently feeding speculation the vice president is seriously considering entering the race, according to CNN:
Vice President Joe Biden, a reliable fundraiser for the Democratic Party and dutiful emissary of the administration's initiatives, has traveled to Florida dozens of times since he took office.
But his trip here Wednesday, the first since speculation began mounting that he'll launch a late bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, has nonetheless touched off talk that he's laying the groundwork for a campaign….
In a speech ostensibly about the Obama administration's attempts to bolster higher education, Biden did little to quell the chatter about his political ambitions, railing against economic inequality and casting himself as a warrior for the middle class.
At the same time Biden ponders his future, he has received positive signals from some high-profile political figures, including home-state senator Chris Coons of Delaware pledging his support and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, once thought to be a possible 2016 candidate himself, telling reporters, “If he did run, I think all Democrats would be in a bind, because they'd have a choice of a number of good candidates. But that's a good situation to be in, right?” Cuomo has already endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Union leader Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, joined the praise for Biden and called him a “champion for working families” while criticizing Clinton’s lack of a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, according to RealClearPolitics.com.
Should he run, Biden is expected to compete primarily with Clinton for the nomination, although his remarks at a fundraiser for Senate Democrats following his speech in Miami suggest Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is on his mind as well:
Joe Biden sounded off Wednesday on one of his potential primary opponents — but it wasn't Hillary Clinton.
“I am not a populist. But Bernie Sanders, he’s doing a helluva job,” Biden said, puzzling at least a few donors at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in Miami….
As they map out a potential primary run, Biden's advisers are looking at how to run to Clinton's left — though that's complicated by the fact that his own record is similarly moderate. He would be threading a needle between her and the very devoted progressive following that Sanders has attracted.
Biden faces serious challenges if he wants to make a late entry into the 2016 race, particularly when it comes to fundraising. In late August Politico reported his advisers were meeting with top Democratic donors to sound them out on a possible run, and if Biden wants to run it’s likely that his assessment of whether he can raise the necessary funds to compete will be the determinative factor.
The preparations for a run don’t shed much light one way or the other on whether Biden will run or not, only suggesting that he’s smart enough to realize he needs to be making these moves if he wants to preserve his viability. But with the first Democratic debates coming up in October and the Clinton team pulling in bid endorsements and money, there’s probably not much time left for him to stay out while maintaining his viability.