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Biden keeps his name in the game for 2016

Posted: August 13, 2013 8:00 a.m.
Updated: August 13, 2013 8:00 a.m.
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden may run for president in 2016, or he may not. But he wants you to know he could.

Iowa. New Hampshire, South Carolina. Michigan. Three years out from the next presidential election, the vice president is polishing his connections and racking up favors in all the right states to ensure he stays part of the conversation, keeping his name near the top of a list of likely contenders even if the prime spot seems to have already been claimed by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Biden's advisers and friends say his crowded schedule of campaign events to boost Democrats in key primary states reflects his role as vice president and a party leader, not some grand strategy to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign he hasn't yet decided to undertake.

But Democratic activists and donors say the signals are all too clear when a two-time presidential candidate who is openly entertaining a third run makes the trek to early primary states.

"He's doing the smart thing. He's moving around. He's going to the early states. He's letting folks know he's interested," said Dick Harpootlian, who chaired the South Carolina Democratic Party until earlier this year. He described the stops as a chance to "meet all the major players in the Democratic primary process, in one room, in one night."

That Biden is still interested in the top job is far from a secret, and in his current office, the writing is on the wall.

"I have two portraits hanging: one of Jefferson, one of Adams. Both vice presidents who became presidents," Biden told GQ last month, noting the former presidents' self-satisfied expressions. "I joke to myself, I wonder what their portraits looked like when they were vice presidents."

As a two-term sitting vice president, Senate veteran and Democratic Party luminary, Biden in any other year would have the right of first refusal for the Democratic nomination.

This time, though, Biden's decision and prospects are both irrefutably colored by Clinton, who a growing number of Democratic groups are hyping as President Barack Obama's heir apparent as they seek to recruit her to join the race. So although Biden and other Democrats are looking to Clinton before they decide how to proceed, the vice president is signaling that nobody should count him out just yet.

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