WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at Vice President Joe Biden’s preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: “If I decide to run, believe me, this would be the first guy I talk to. But that decision hasn’t been made, for real. And there’s plenty of time to make that.”– April, CBS, in joint interview with President Barack Obama.
Book: Not lately. Could be time for a sequel to “Promises to Keep” from 2007, though his position as vice president might constrain him.
Iowa: Yes, spoke at Sen. Tom Harkin’s fall 2013 steak-fry fundraiser. Then in May, attended party for Iowans who came to Washington for annual lobbying trip. Raised money for Iowa congressional candidate Jim Mowrer. Schmoozed with Iowa power brokers during 2013 inauguration week in Washington. (Poor Iowa caucuses showing knocked him out of the 2008 presidential race.)
New Hampshire: Yes. In March trip for Nashua job-training event, made time to raise money for three New Hampshire Democrats. Asked about presidential ambitions, he quipped, “I’m here about jobs — not mine.”
South Carolina: Yes. In May, gave commencement speech at University of South Carolina and headlined Democratic fundraiser, first visit since he spoke at state party’s annual fundraiser a year earlier. Several earlier visits since 2009; vacationed in state for a week and an Easter weekend.
Foreign travel: Tons. Took in World Cup soccer in Brazil in June as part of his ninth trip to South or Central America since 2009. Attended June inauguration of Ukraine’s new president. Went to Eastern Europe in May. Visited Ukraine in April to symbolize U.S. commitment to new government in its struggle against pro-Russian insurgents and threatening signals from Moscow. Sent to Poland and Lithuania in March to reassure NATO allies anxious about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea. Countless trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during first term.
Meet the money: Nonstop these days. Fundraising aggressively across the country for the Democratic National Committee, sometimes holding multiple events in a single day. In late May, raised money for Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., in Denver, and for Democrats at the San Francisco home of billionaire Tom Steyer, a leading Democratic donor who has pledged to spend up to $100 million to elevate climate change as a campaign issue and help Democrats. Regularly schmoozes contributors at private receptions.
Networking: Says he plans to campaign in more than 100 races in the 2014 elections. Meets regularly with former Senate colleagues and congressional Democrats. Gives keynote speeches at annual state Democratic Party dinners across the country. Making calls for House Democrats’ campaign organization, assisting in recruitment of candidates. Campaigned for new Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, new Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. Speaks regularly to special interests.
Hog the TV: After being largely absent from airwaves for more than a year, Biden has started appearing on TV more regularly. In April, did joint interview with Obama on CBS, winning his praise as “one of the finest vice presidents in history,” although the president conspicuously mentioned the “extraordinary” former secretary of state, Hillary Rodman Clinton, as another possible 2016 candidate. (In Obama’s 2013 joint interview with Clinton, he did not mention Biden). He did a TV blitz the morning after the State of the Union and a CNN interview aboard an Amtrak train. Even dished on his skin care routine and his wife’s oddball pranks during an interview with Rachael Ray to promote the health care law. But not a Sunday news show fixture these days.
Do something: Leading Obama’s review of federal job-training programs, prime player in U.S. response to Ukrainian crisis. His office co-chaired a White House task force to address sexual assault on campuses. Point man on gun control, which failed. Lots with foreign policy. Leading administration’s efforts to engage more with Latin America. Called on to lobby former Senate colleagues on Syria, Iran. Visiting ports across the U.S. to promote infrastructure and exports. Point man on Violence Against Women Act. Credited with pushing Obama to embrace gay marriage. Called upon by the administration to be a go-between with the Senate. Negotiated fiscal cliff deal.
Take a stand: Guns. Violence against women. Gay rights. Veterans. He’s touched on everything as senator and vice president.
Baggage: Age, flubs, fibs. Biden would be 74 by Inauguration Day 2017. Saddled by Obama’s low approval ratings. Deflection: Unfailing enthusiasm and a busy schedule. Habit of ad-libbing and wandering off message is a turnoff to some, endearing to others. Biden’s response: “I am who I am.” A tendency to embellish a good story dates to first run for president, when he appropriated material from the life story of a British politician, sometimes without attribution. Pew Research polling found public perceives him as not so bright, clownish. Those who like him in polling say he’s honest and good.
Shadow campaign: Tapped longtime adviser and former lobbyist Steve Ricchetti to be his chief of staff in late 2013. Maintains close contact with his political advisers past and present. Creating a shadow campaign would be difficult too soon in Obama’s second term as the public perception could hasten Obama’s lame-duck status.
Social media: Launched an Instagram account in April. His office actively promotes his public appearances on Twitter, including more humanizing moments like a shared train ride with Whoopi Goldberg and, on his 71st birthday, a photo of him as a young boy. Not active on Facebook, occasionally contributes to his office’s Twitter account. Narrates “Being Biden” photo series showing him behind the scenes.
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