The New York Times is reporting that Vice-President Joe Biden is now actively exploring a potential presidential campaign. Biden’s associates, led by his chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, have apparently begun gauging interest from major players in the Democratic Party as well as large Democratic donors, who either aren’t already supporting Hillary Clinton, or are but have concerns about her ability to make it to the White House.
The Times notes that a supporter close to Biden linked the vice-president’s change of heart to the recent death of his 46-year-old son Beau, who had always urged his father to run for president. In addition, as part of the wave of calls and condolences that came in following Beau’s death, many asked Biden to reconsider entering the race as well, though CNN reports that other supporters indicate Biden had been leaning toward a run even before the death of his son.
Regardless, both the Times and CNN assert that Biden has still not made up his mind. As CNN puts it, “Conversations this week with people close to Biden, from his home base in Delaware to Washington and beyond, suggest agreement on three points: He has not made up his mind. Anyone who believes he has is wrong. And he should be allowed to decide on his own timeframe.” However, the Times also points out that his office is already contacting currently unaffiliated campaign staffers in case he does decide to run, and a donor familiar with Biden’s thinking suggested that if he did enter the race, Biden would run to Hillary Clinton’s left on economic issues, while also championing the accomplishments of the Obama administration. Last week, a Quinnipiac poll showed that Biden had the highest favorability rating (49 percent) he has ever had in his seven years as vice-president. If the 72-year-old does launch a campaign, it would be his third attempt at winning the Democratic nomination.