Biden for President? Allies Mulling Clinton Challenge

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Vice President Joe Biden’s associates have resumed discussions about a 2016 presidential run after largely shelving such deliberations while his son was sick and dying 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 Democratic donors and operatives 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 the options that might be available to him if he were to run, such as potential staff in Iowa and the filing deadlines for entering the Democratic field.

But the people close to the vice president say his launching a White House run remains uncertain. 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 AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly.

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

Biden’s entry could reshape the dynamics of the Democratic primary, giving the party another option that might appeal to a wide swath of voters. Yet Clinton remains enormously popular among Democrats. She has amassed a large staff of seasoned operatives and raised nearly $50 million for her campaign.

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 confidants and former aides for emotional support. But these allies also were involved with Biden’s two previous presidential campaigns. Former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, who has advised Biden for most of his political career, and Mike Donilon, a friend and longtime political aide, have both been given offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building steps from the vice president’s West Wing office.