2016 Campaign Checklist: Biden
A look at Vice President Joe Biden’s preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: "There may be reasons I don’t run, but there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run." - February, CNN.
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. 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. Headlined annual fundraising dinner in May for South Carolina Democratic Party, a speculation stoker in big primary state. Appeared at Rep. James Clyburn’s annual fish fry. Spent Easter weekend last year with wife at Kiawah Island, near Charleston. Vacationed there for a week in 2009 as well.
Foreign travel: You bet. Countless trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during President Barack Obama’s first term. Sent to Poland and Lithuania in March to reassure NATO allies anxious about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Spoke regularly to Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, until Yanukovych fled to Russia. Seven trips to the Americas since 2009, including a March visit to Chile. December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea, much more foreign travel earlier in Obama’s presidency.
Meet the money: Actively fundraising for Democratic committees and candidates in the 2014 midterms. Headlined fundraiser at home of Biden donor in Florida for House candidate Alex Sink in February; Sink lost the special election in March. Regularly schmoozes contributors at private receptions.
Networking: And how. Plans to campaign in more than 100 races in the 2014 election. Meets regularly with former Senate colleagues and congressional Democrats. Cozied up to important players during inauguration week, including reception for activists from New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina among other states; dropped into the Iowa ball, met environmental and Hispanic activists. 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: He’s back. After being largely absent from airwaves for more than a year, has resumed frequent interviews, including 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.
Do something: Leading Obama’s review of federal job-training programs. 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 reservation 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 new chief of staff starting in December 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: 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.