Biden comes to Clinton's aid
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE and Vice President Biden's joint campaign appearance has been canceled in the wake of the Dallas police shootings

Vice President Biden will join Hillary Clinton on Friday for their first joint campaign appearance, an event that comes amid one of the most difficult weeks of her presidential run.

FBI Director James Comey this week rebuked Clinton for her “extremely careless” handling of government secrets as secretary of State, saying classified information was found on her private server despite her repeated public denials. 

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While the Justice Department is not moving forward with a criminal case, Comey’s findings have only intensified the email controversy that has shadowed her campaign. 

Into that fray steps Biden, who could play a key role as surrogate in Rust Belt states that presumptive Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE hopes to win.

The rally Friday will be in Biden’s hometown of Scranton, a city which exemplifies the kind of blue-collar culture with which he has long been identified.

If Clinton were to block Trump in Pennsylvania and nearby states such as Ohio, it would become much more difficult for the Republican to find a plausible path to winning the White House. 

“He is a huge asset for her,” said Joe Trippi, who served as Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign manager. “He has always done extremely well with blue-collar Democrats, hailing from Scranton — he has always been strong in places like that.” 

Added Democratic strategist Robert Shrum: “He can help her in the same way that I think he helped Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ Democrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration Trump’s first year in office was the year of the woman MORE. He has a real-appeal to blue-collar voters, real appeal in Pennsylvania and Ohio. He can make a real contribution.”

Still, when Biden takes the stage with Clinton Friday, it’s likely to be a bittersweet moment. 

The vice president grappled for months with whether to mount his own bid for the White House. That process was made all the more raw because Biden was mourning the loss of his son, Beau, who died from brain cancer in late May 2015.

Biden announced in October that he would not run, but he has not always seemed entirely reconciled to that choice. Just two months ago, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he “would have been the best president.”

There was also speculation about bruised feelings in the Biden camp over a perception that Clinton aides were trying to box him out from the race. As Biden was still mulling his choice, a comment from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that it was “time he make that decision” is said to have rankled him deeply. 

Yet the situation is complicated because Biden clearly wants to do everything he can to make sure Democrats win the White House in November. That result is essential if the legacy he has helped build with President Obama is to survive.

“My guess is that Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration Trump thinks he could easily beat Sanders in 2020 match-up: report Biden marks MLK Day: Americans are 'living through a battle for the soul of this nation' MORE is probably thinking ‘why didn’t I run?’ and kicking himself,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “But he is a war horse. I’m sure in his heart of hearts he is wondering how things could be different.” 

Another Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity so he could speak candidly, said that he expected that on Friday “there will be a bit of a melancholy feeling because he was clearly thinking of running and if the tragedy of his son’s death had not befallen him, he probably would have run.”

But other strategists differed from that viewpoint, arguing that Biden had in fact accepted that his ambitions to be president — an office for which he first ran in 1988 — would go unfulfilled.

“I don’t think it complicates it at all, because it’s settled,” Shrum said. “He may have some wistfulness, but I don’t think that will stop him one bit.”

Biden’s comments have caused unease in the Clinton camp at other times, however, even after he opted against a run.

He seemed to cast doubt on Clinton’s professed concerns about income inequality back in January, saying she was “relatively new” to the issue. According to the Wall Street Journal, that remark resulted in a call from Clinton aide Jennifer Palmieri to a Biden aide, insisting that the comment was incorrect. 

In April, Biden also raised eyebrows by praising the ambitiousness of Clinton’s primary rival, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) Former Sanders campaign manager: Don't expect email list to be shared with DNC Adult film star: Trump and Stormy Daniels invited me to 'hang out' MORE (I-Vt.). In the process, he seemed to criticize the more incremental, centrist approach with which Clinton is identified. 

“I like the idea of saying, ‘We can do much more,’ because we can,” Biden told The New York Times. “I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big — we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic.’ C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party!”

Yet, for all that, Biden and Clinton had a collegial relationship both during the time they both served in the Senate. 

While she was serving as secretary of State, the two had weekly breakfasts when they were both in Washington — even though they sometimes were on opposite sides of critical foreign policy questions such as the merits of military intervention in Libya.

An aide to the vice president told The Hill that he “is proud that his first appearance with Sec. Clinton since he and the President endorsed her will be in his hometown of Scranton, Pa. The visit will be forward-looking and focused on Sec. Clinton's candidacy.”