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.”