The Latest Dispatch from the Biden Front.

Filed in National by on August 27, 2015

After Monday, the news on the Biden front has decidedly shifted. Remember we had Tomasky’s piece on a game changing Biden-Warren ticket after their meeting on Saturday. But now we get a lengthy piece from Glen Thrush at Politico that highlights that “Biden is still not himself” after Beau’s death, that his family and his wife Jill are not sold on another run, etc.

Mourning the loss of his eldest son Beau, who succumbed to a brain tumor three months ago, and under intense pressure from the presidential hype he’s helped stoke, Biden is more subdued, grayer and grimly on-task than usual — this while occupying political center stage for the first time since the promising opening days of his doomed 1988 campaign.

For all the breathless reporting on Biden’s every move and meeting, he is, at core, a 72-year-old man presented with an unexpected, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at one of the worst times of his life.
Several people Biden has talked to in the past month say he starts off conversations by conceding that “some days are better than others,” mixing recollections of Beau with logistical questions about mounting a state-by-state challenge to a vulnerable yet still formidable Hillary Clinton. “He’s just not himself,” says a longtime friend of Biden’s. “He’s sort of all over the place. He’s engaged but not in that childlike, manic way he usually is. He’s taking it all in and soaking up information, but he’s hard to read. And Joe Biden isn’t usually that hard to read.” [...]

But reports that the vice president has all but made up his mind to run are simply not true, according to a half-dozen people in his inner circle interviewed by POLITICO. “He’s not leaning one way or the other,” says one former aide who remains part of the extended Biden political family. [...]

“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” said Jim Kreindler, a 2008 Biden fundraiser who is encouraging the vice president to run. “Everybody knows it’s going to be hard to challenge Hillary for money. … But I think he knows that he needs to be positioned to jump in if she really stumbles.”

As he embarks on a fact-finding project most other candidates completed months ago, Biden’s greatest concern remains his family. He’s especially worried about his wife, Jill, who was hit hard by the death of 46-year-old Beau, who she raised after Biden’s first wife and infant daughter were killed in a car crash in 1972. Beau urged his father to run for years, but Jill is deeply skeptical of another run, according to people close to Biden; she re-upped to teach a full-time load of five English classes at Northern Virginia Community College next semester, as first noted by Bloomberg News, not exactly the action of a woman who planned to hit the campaign trail. [...]

Hunter Biden, the vice president’s surviving son, is said to be generally supportive of his father’s wishes, whatever they might be, but not a cheerleader — Biden’s sister Val, long his closest political adviser, is equally ambivalent. Jill Biden will be a hard sell.

Here is what has happened. Advisers, supporters and friends surrounding Joe Biden kept nagging him to test the waters. He eventually relented and gave a nod in their direction. So all the trial balloons went up. Whispering to the press began. Leaks of meetings with fundraisers here and a Senator Warren there. The hype reaches a crescendo, where now the President at lunch is inquiring of your plans, and maybe even Bill and Hillary are on the phone, gently probing your intentions. So you call some of those same supporters and advisers and you say “yo, tamper down the hype, I haven’t even really discussed this with my family yet, and when I have, they are not so keen.”

Or maybe the family themselves pushed back. Either way, the brakes are being applied. It’s not just one Politico piece. The New York Times reports that Vice President Biden told DNC members “that he was uncertain if his family had the ’emotional fuel’ for another presidential campaign.”

Were he to run, he would “have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul,” he said, “and right now, both are pretty well banged up.”

He added: “I’m not trying to skirt your question. That’s the truth of the matter, but believe me, I’ve given this a lot of thought and dealing internally with the family on how we do this.”

And then you have others attaching their own lead to the Biden balloon. Current Agriculture Secretary, Former Iowa Governor, and fellow Obama Administration member Tom Vilsack chose this week of all weeks to endorse Hillary. Former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), “a fixture in Iowa Democratic politics for over four decades, discouraged Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday from entering the presidential race, suggesting that Hillary Rodham Clinton, if elected, could name him to a top diplomatic post instead.”

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  1. John Manifold says:

    Says he should stay tuned in the bullpen: