Vice President Joe Biden appears to be increasingly serious about a potentially launching a 2016 presidential campaign.
According to multiple recent reports, Biden is calling friends and political allies about the race.
“He’s taking input from a lot of people he cares about and respects,” South Carolina State Rep. James Smith (D) told the Wall Street Journal in a story published Wednesday.
Smith said he told Biden to go for it: “He knows where I stand. It’s just got to be his decision.”
Meanwhile, NBC News reported Thursday that Biden aides are “calling around” to Democratic operatives in order to discuss a potential 2016 campaign. Biden isn’t commenting publicly on the matter.
A Biden White House bid would likely be an uphill battle against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who polls show would be a far-and-away primary front-runner even with the vice president in the race.
However, some observers are framing the potential Biden candidacy as a sign that Democrats are increasingly anxious about Clinton‘s ability to win the general election.
Greg Valliere, the chief political strategist at the Potomac Research Group, said Wednesday that polls showing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) surging in the Democratic primary will cause some party stalwarts to look to Biden as a more viable Clinton alternative.
“Clinton is in free fall, and leaders of the party agree that Sanders would lose at least 49 states in the general election,” he said. “So the speculation will intensify — starting today — that Joe Biden may have to save the party from a debacle.”
Clinton has been battered by weeks and months of negative headlines, notably about her exclusive use of a private email account for government business while she worked at the State Department. Critics accuse Clinton of breaching protocol to avoid government archives and of potentially mishandling classified information, allowing it to sit on an insecure personal server.
On Tuesday, the her campaign sent supporters an extensive, 13-paragraph statement defending Clinton and declaring “there is absolutely no criminal inquiry” into the candidate.
“What makes it complicated: It’s common for information previously considered unclassified to be upgraded to classified before being publicly released,” the Clinton campaign said.
“Some emails that weren’t secret at the time she sent or received them might be secret now. And sometimes government agencies disagree about what should be classified, so it isn’t surprising that another agency might want to conduct its own review, even though the State Department has repeatedly confirmed that Hillary’s emails contained no classified information at the time she sent or received them.”
But some Democrats remain concerned.
“There are Democrats who are concerned about the turmoil swirling around the secretary with the emails and the server, and now the FBI is investigating and congressional hearings are coming up in the fall,” New Hampshire House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff (D), a Biden supporter in 2008, told The Journal.
The biggest factor for Biden as he explores a potential campaign appears to be his late son, Beau, who reportedly urged his father to run while he was dying of brain cancer earlier this year. His death left the Biden family in visible turmoil, and it’s unclear whether the vice president is emotionally ready to enter the rigors of the campaign trail.
“Biden is not calling people asking ‘if’ he should run, but saying, ‘I am thinking about it but I’m also thinking about Beau,’ according to a source close to Biden,” NBC reported.
“I think he is doing the analysis and homework,” the source who spoke to Biden told NBC. “I can’t emphasise this enough: He is distraught over Beau’s passing and working through the grief.”
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