Aides to US Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den re­sume dis­cus­sion about pres­i­den­tial run

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY JULIE PACE, LISA LERER AND JOSH LEDERMAN

U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den’s as­so­ci­ates have re­sumed dis­cus­sions about a pos­si­ble 2016 pres­i­den­tial run af­ter largely putting aside such de­lib­er­a­tions dur­ing his son’s ill­ness and fol­low­ing his death ear­lier this year. But Bi­den has yet to tell his staff whether he will run or per­son­ally ask them to do any plan­ning for a po­ten­tial cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral peo­ple close to the vice pres­i­dent.

Re­cent con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Bi­den’s as­so­ci­ates and donors and op­er­a­tives for the rul­ing Demo­cratic Party have led to spec­u­la­tion that Bi­den will chal­lenge front-run­ner Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton for the party’s nom­i­na­tion, and in­di­vid­u­als close to Bi­den have started look­ing into what op­tions might be avail­able to him if he were to run, such as po­ten­tial staff in the early-vot­ing state of Iowa.

Bi­den is ex­pected to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion as soon as early Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to those fa­mil­iar with his plans.

The peo­ple close to Bi­den spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the de­lib­er­a­tions.

The re­newed fo­cus on Bi­den comes amid some signs of weak­ness for Clin­ton, in­clud­ing declines in her fa­vor­a­bil­ity among vot­ers in re­cent polling. Sen. Bernie San­ders, who is chal­leng­ing Clin­ton for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, has been at­tract­ing large crowds with a lib­eral eco­nomic mes­sage, ev­i­dence of a hunger within the party for an al­ter­na­tive to Clin­ton’s can­di­dacy.

Bi­den’s en­try could fun­da­men­tally re­shape the dy­nam­ics of the Demo­cratic pri­mary elec­tions. Yet Clin­ton re­mains enor­mously pop­u­lar among Democrats. She has raised nearly US$50 mil­lion for her cam­paign.

There are few signs, mean­while, that Bi­den is tak­ing solid steps to­ward launch­ing a cam­paign. He has had lit­tle in­ter­ac­tion with a “draft Bi­den” group push­ing him to run, and has yet to look for of­fice space in early vot­ing states or raise money for a po­ten­tial bid.

Ken­dra Barkoff, the vice pres­i­dent’s press sec­re­tary, said Bi­den was spend­ing his time work­ing on Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s agenda, not on plan­ning his own po­ten­tial pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

“As the Bi­den fam­ily con­tin­ues to go through this dif­fi­cult time, the vice pres­i­dent is fo­cused on his fam­ily and im­mersed in his work,” Barkoff said.

Bi­den’s son, Beau, died of brain can­cer in May. The younger Bi­den’s death prompted an out­pour­ing of sup­port for the vice pres­i­dent, who also lost a daugh­ter and his first wife in a car ac­ci­dent in 1972.

Since Beau Bi­den’s death, his fa­ther has sur­rounded him­self with long­time con­fi­dants and for­mer aides who can pro­vide com­fort and emo­tional sup­port — but also have in­ti­mate ties to Bi­den’s two pre­vi­ous pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns.

In re­cent weeks, sev­eral long­time donors, sup­port­ers and for­mer staffers have reached out to the vice pres­i­dent and his staff to of­fer their con­do­lences, as well as to say they’d be on board if he chooses to run.

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