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posted: 1/26/2014 6:00 AM

A look at potential presidential candidate Joe Biden

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  • Vice President Joe Biden

      Vice President Joe Biden
    Associated Press/Sept 12, 2013

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A look at Vice President Joe Biden's preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: "Oh, we'll talk about that." With a chuckle, to Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli in November 2013 when asked about running in 2016.

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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: Not much since 2012 campaign, but has kept in touch with people from the state. Canceled planned 2013 fundraiser for New Hampshire's Democratic governor due to son's health scare.

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. Frequent foreign travel and plenty of foreign policy experience by former chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Countless trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during President Barack Obama's first term. Already been to India, Singapore, Rome, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, and more. In December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea, served as Obama's point man in dispute over China's contentious new air-defense zone.

Meet the money: Regularly schmoozes contributors at private receptions. Helping Democratic campaign committees raise money from big-dollar donors before 2014 elections.

Networking: And how. 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. One week last May: Monday, spoke to religious leaders at the White House; Tuesday, voting rights talk with African-Americans; Wednesday, immigration talk with Asian-Americans; Thursday, meeting with firefighters about Boston bombing. And on the fifth day, he rested.

Hog the TV: No, not lately.

Do something: 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.

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. A new book revealed Obama's aides considered replacing Biden with Clinton on the 2012 ticket, but Obama has said he never would have entertained it. Then former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in his 2014 memoir, declared Biden "has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades" while praising Clinton's smarts in comparison.

Rebuttal: White House rushed out a defense of Biden's cred and value to the president; Obama's public schedule showed five meetings with Biden the day after Gates' criticism became public.

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.

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