Joe Biden Draws Distinctions Between Himself and Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg News/TNS) -

If Vice President Joe Biden decides to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democrat presidential nomination the contours of his stump speech are in place.

For the second time this week Biden portrayed himself as a pragmatist who’s capable of working with Republicans, drawing a subtle contrast with party front-runner Clinton.

“I don’t think my chief enemy is the Republican Party,” Biden said during a panel discussion at an event honoring former Vice President Walter Mondale in Washington. By contrast, Clinton named “the Republicans” as one of her greatest enemies when asked at the Oct. 13 Democratic candidate debate.

Like Mondale, Biden spent years before becoming vice president as a member of the Senate, where the rules make it nearly impossible to move legislation without compromise. He has served as President Barack Obama’s chief emissary to Congress, particularly in negotiations with the Republican leadership there.

During the panel discussion at George Washington University, Biden also portrayed himself as a loyal and vital part of Obama’s administration who was involved in key issues during the past seven years. Clinton also has embraced her time as Obama’s first secretary of state.

“We’ve had two great secretaries of state,” Biden said, but he pointed out that when the vice president speaks with a foreign leader, they know that “I am speaking for the president.”

Biden is expected to announce whether he intends to make a third try for the Democratic nomination by the end of the week, according to people close to him. He has stepped-up contacts with union officials and other prospective backers in recent days.

Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the other Democratic candidates are scheduled to speak at Saturday’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner for the Iowa Democratic Party, which attracts thousands of Democratic activists in the first-caucus state. Biden’s staff has neither signaled nor ruled out an appearance at the dinner in Des Moines.