It's been a rumor for a long time now that Vice President Joe Biden might take his chances in 2016 at a White House run and now, it looks like he's been working quietly behind the scenes to make President Biden a reality.
With nearly four years left in Obama's second term, it would be untoward for Biden to be openly self-promotional, and his advisers say he's focused on his current job. Still, with the jockeying for 2016 nominations already well under way, there's an advantage to staying part of the conversation. So the freewheeling man from Scranton, Pa., is polishing a reputation carefully nurtured over four decades in Washington, playing up his own strengths even as he stays fiercely loyal to his current boss.
"The good news is my dad understands that he works for the president, first and foremost," said Beau Biden, the vice president's son and Delaware's state attorney general. "I hope he takes a real, hard look at running, but now's not the time."
That time will come soon enough. In the meantime, the vice presidency has afforded Biden ample opportunities to keep his name in the spotlight without seeming overtly political. He's hit the pavement, keeping a strenuous schedule that would wear out many 70-year-old men.
But can he beat Hillary?
Another factor in Biden's equation — and every conversation about 2016 — is Hillary Rodham Clinton, who Democratic insiders say would start out a heavy favorite if she seeks the nomination.
A match-up with his former Senate colleague, 2008 primary opponent and West Wing teammate would test the loyalties and relative influence of a number of key Democratic constituencies.
Fiercely popular with women and with strong bipartisan appeal, Clinton stands to gain from fond memories of a booming economy under her husband's presidency. Like Biden, she also lays claim to the Obama legacy. But Biden, on many issues, also has cast himself to the left of Obama, staking out ground that could make him an attractive alternative to Clinton for the party's liberal base in presidential primaries.