Joe Biden is weighing a 2020 presidential bid, and I'm not sure he'll need any help from himself to make up his mind.
The former vice president and current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was spotted at Grace Episcopal Church in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday, meeting with local Democrats, possibly to pick up a few pointers on what a primary campaign might be like. Biden's son died in a car accident in 2015.
But some of Biden's recent comments show he's already making some preliminary calculations — not just for the presidency, but for how to win.
In an interview with NBC News aired on "Meet the Press" this week, Biden explained how he would approach President Trump's decision to send troops to the southern border to intercept undocumented immigrants, and said that he is supportive of that approach.
"I would, first of all, say, 'Mr. President, I will be part of your team.' And that means in whatever way we can help you make sure that you're successful. There are a lot of Americans who do not agree with your decision, and I think there are ways that we can all — that I can work with you as president in helping you win the ultimate war on terror — but in a way that's responsible and just."
Then he warned the president: "Don't confuse the lack of faith in this country by what happened on the southern border with the support of America by your decision to ignore and to continue to deal with issues that, number one, will impact the future of this country and that are rooted in this vast desert on the border."
Similarly, Biden told Politico he wouldn't back down on some of the same issues as Trump, though he may limit his criticism to the specifics of government policy.
"He's got a point. He's the elected president," Biden said. "He's gonna do what he's gotta do. I'm just more concerned about the direction of the country."
But if Biden decides to run for president, he could face a tough race — assuming he does. Recent polling shows Democrats are divided on whether Biden is the strongest candidate, and he could lack any memorable defining moment to speak to in the event of a primary.
To prevent this, Biden is thought to be evaluating early voting states, meeting with key establishment types such as New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).
His schedule on Sunday might have revealed something about his thinking. Biden also got in a round of golf with Biden pal Jim Talent, a former senator from Missouri.
In 2014, Obama asked Biden to step in to serve as his running mate after then-Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau Biden died of brain cancer that summer.
Those close to Biden say he considers himself the favorite to be the Democratic nominee and thinks he's got a strong chance at the nomination.
"I'm telling you Joe Biden is the greatest vice president this country has ever had," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said on ABC's "This Week" over the weekend. "He's smart, he's tough, he's experienced, he's got the experience."
But many Democrats are wary of another Biden bid. Andrew Gillum, a Florida Democrat looking to run for governor, is urging Biden to stay out of the race.
"The incredible scrutiny of a presidential run — Joe would relish it, would be a total trooper — but for the next 18 months, we are all Florida Democrats — we have to come together to win for Florida, and we need to focus that mind-set on our 2018 elections."
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