- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2015

The buzz that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will soon enter the Democratic race for president intensified Monday as a Pennsylvania congressman insisted he has heard on good authority that the Biden campaign is a go.

That tantalizing detail set off another day’s worth of speculation about the vice president, with even the White House hinting that Mr. Biden should soon announce his intentions.

Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, Pennsylvania Democrat, fueled the speculation with a post on Twitter. “I have a very good source close to Joe that tells me VP Biden will run for Prez,” the first-term congressman tweeted.

An announcement from Mr. Biden reportedly could come as soon as this week.

Mr. Biden has hemmed and hawed for months about whether to join the race, saying he didn’t know if his heart is in it after the death of his son, Beau Biden, in May. But he has been approved to run by Democrats eager for a bona fide contender who would be an alternative to scandal-scarred Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The window of opportunity is quickly closing for Mr. Biden to launch a viable campaign.

His entrance would immediately shake up the contest and test the party establishment’s allegiance to Mrs. Clinton, the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.

Mr. Biden has kept the chatter going, recently taking veiled jabs at Mrs. Clinton and the other top Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders.

“I don’t consider Republicans enemies, they’re friends,” Mr. Biden said at a White House summit on climate change, an apparent reference to Mrs. Clinton’s remark in last Tuesday’s candidates debate that the enemy she is most proud of is Republicans.

At the summit Mr. Biden also took on the anti-billionaire, anti-Wall Street, anti-corporate message that is the cornerstone of Mr. Sanders’ campaign.

“I’m not one of these guys, you know, ‘Let’s go after the rich and the powerful, they’re the problem.’ They’re not a problem,” Mr. Biden said. “But everybody has to do their part, man. There has to be some rationality to this process.”

The vice president’s office did not respond to questions about his plans or the timing of an announcement.

An hour before he posted his comment, Mr. Boyle also wrote on Twitter: “For people who think it’s too late for Biden to run, worth remembering Bill Clinton entered the 92 race in October.”

A spokeswoman for Rep. Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania, the longtime Democratic Party chairman in Philadelphia, said the lawmaker had no comment on Mr. Boyle’s claim.

The White House, which has largely been mum on the subject, suggested that it may be time for the vice president to make a decision.

“I think everybody understands what the stakes are. Primarily, people understand this is an intensely personal decision for anybody to make,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “We are into the fall, and that’s when more of the country’s attention and more of the debate focuses on who the next president might be. But ultimately, this will be a decision for the vice president to make.”

Washington insiders have been discounting Mr. Biden’s chances of success with a late entrance in the race after Mrs. Clinton’s strong performance in the first Democratic candidates debate.

Mr. Biden nevertheless has continued to inch toward a run, meeting with top union officials and contacting major Democratic donors who would be crucial to the effort.

The spike of inside-the-Beltway excitement about a Biden run coincided with mounting anticipation for Mrs. Clinton’s testimony Thursday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which will be as big a test as the debate was for the former secretary of state’s presidential run.

Support for Mr. Biden slipped slightly in a CNN/ORC post-debate poll. He remained in third place behind Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders, but he garnered 18 percent compared to 20 percent in the same poll last month.

Mrs. Clinton led the field, with 45 percent. Mr. Sanders enjoyed the biggest bounce from the debate, increasing five points to 29 percent in the poll.

Most who watched during the debate said Mrs. Clinton had the best performance of the night, according to the pollsters.

The other three Democratic candidates who participated in the debate barely registered in the poll. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb got 1 percent, while former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee each garnered less than 1 percent.

Harvard professor Larry Lessig, who was not allowed in the debate, also got less than 1 percent in the poll.

Excluding Mr. Biden from the survey, Mrs. Clinton’s lead over Mr. Sanders would grow to 23 points, 56 percent to 33 percent.

Mr. Biden, who twice has run unsuccessfully for president, also faces discouragement from running by major Democratic figures who fear his candidacy would weaken Mrs. Clinton and hurt the party’s chances of keeping the White House.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democratic leader and a close ally of President Obama, said that despite controversies swirling around Mrs. Clinton, she “still brings the strongest candidacy for the presidency.”

In an interview on MSNBC, Mr. Durbin raised doubts about Mr. Biden’s ability to win and dismissed all the excitement preceding his possible entrance into the race.

“The day he announces, it’s going to change,” he said on MSNBC. “It’s no longer going to be this thoughtful, heartfelt man. It’s going to be one of the candidates in the mix, you know, facing the long knives day in, day out, and they’re asking themselves, ‘Are we ready for this?’”

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