Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Democratic presidential candidates in 2016 should embrace President Obama’s economic policies and “run on what we have done” instead of running away from the administration.
“In my view, those seeking to lead the nation should protect and defend and run, yes run, on what we’ve done and own what we have done,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in Des Moines, Iowa. “Stand for what we have done. Acknowledge what we have done. And be judged on what we have done, if we have any chance for continued resurgence in 2016.”
He added, “Some say that would amount to a third term of the president. I call it sticking with what works.”
Mr. Biden hinted at his own presidential plans, saying he will decide whether to run in 2016 by the end of this summer.
“That’s a family personal decision that I’m going to make sometime at the end of the summer,” Mr. Biden told reporters. “In the meantime, though, this is about convincing the public and in turn some of our Republican friends that what we’re proposing in the budget is a continuation of the stuff that works.”
Mr. Biden, who has not formed an exploratory committee for 2016, said he wasn’t in the state for campaigning.
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“I’ve been here a lot, I have a lot of friends. I’m going to see some of my friends are still in the Legislature and they’re here today,” he said. “But no, I’m not doing any organization if that’s what you mean.”
He didn’t mention former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, although Mrs. Clinton has tried to distance herself from the administration’s foreign policy and tweeted last month that Democrats need to “deliver” on Mr. Obama’s economic proposals, implying his programs haven’t helped the middle class enough.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat and a darling of the left, has been more vocal in her criticism of the president’s economic agenda for failing to improve middle-class wages.
In his speech at Drake University, Mr. Biden criticized Democrats who would separate themselves from the administration’s policies.
“It wasn’t that long ago that even members of my own party were saying our economic path hadn’t worked,” Mr. Biden said. “And they were looking to distance themselves between what the president and I had done and the policies we put in place. I think that would be a terrible mistake.”
Iowa Republican Party officials said Mr. Biden’s visit served mainly to highlight that Mrs. Clinton hasn’t been in the state for 104 days.
“Hillary Clinton has never had a warm relationship with Iowa voters, which might explain why she is hiding from them now,” said Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann. “It’s been months since Hillary has taken a question that wasn’t vetted by her professional handlers. It’s been nearly four months since she’s met an actual Iowa voter. It’s time for Hillary to stop hiding and start proving whether she has anything new to say since her disastrous defeat in 2008.”
The vice president said the 2016 campaign will determine how the economy performs for the next decade, and will be a battle between Democrats’ proposals to help the middle class versus Republicans’ “top-down” plans for tax cuts to benefit mainly wealthier families.
“That’s what the next presidential election is going to be about,” he said. “Are we going to continue this resurgence, focus on growing the middle class, or are we going to return the policies that have failed the middle class?”
Mr. Biden gave a robust defense of the administration’s $840 billion economic recovery plan of 2009, even referring to it as “stimulus,” a much-mocked term that Obama officials usually avoid.
He called out Republican critics of the stimulus plan by name, including House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and others who said the recovery act wouldn’t work.
“They were wrong, dead wrong,” Mr. Biden said. “Now every Main Street economist agrees what we did prevented us from sliding into depression. Stimulus can and does revive the economy.”