Biden: 2016 is battle for third Obama term

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The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee should embrace the notion of a third term of the Obama presidency, Vice President Biden said Thursday, during a speech at Drake University in Iowa.

“I call it sticking with what works,” Biden declared.

The address was billed as a chance for Biden to explain some of the ideas introduced in President Obama's recent State of the Union address, but the vice president repeatedly returned to a discussion of how he saw the contours of the presidential race.

His trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state has reinvigorated speculation he could be preparing his own bid for the White House.

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The vice president said the election would be “all about” either continuing the Obama economic policies or shifting to Republicans' “top-down” vision.

"Run on what we have done. Own what we have done. Stand for what we have done. Acknowledge what we have done," Biden said.

Biden argued that the economic opportunities of the next 10-15 years would be determined by the policies that were embraced by the presidential candidates of both parties.

"Are we going to continue this resurgence or are we going to return to policies I would argue have failed the country in the past?" Biden said 

The speech was full of the folksy, populist nods that have come to typify the vice president's public appearances. He referred to both Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as good friends, and joked he was first elected to the Senate “129 years ago.”

But Biden also used a similar tone to take personal credit for the economic recovery, noting, among other things, his role in implementing the stimulus programs.

“I remember the president when he announced the program, he didn't make me feel very good," Biden said. "He turned to me and said, 'Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: US 'preferred a different outcome' on Brexit Abortion is weakness for Clinton VP favorite Overnight Defense: Biden hits Trump on national security | Dems raise pressure over refugees | Graham vows fight over spending caps MORE, Sheriff Joe, will run the program,' and I thought, 'Oh god. Oh god.' But I did.”

And he frequently returned to promising statistics about the nation's economy.

“Almost 12 million jobs have been added since we’ve been in office, over a record 59 straight months of private sector growth. The fact is, America is back. America is leading the world,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of a presidential bid while touring an industrial lab at the Des Moines Area Community College later, Biden deferred.

"That's a family personal decision I'm going to make sometime at the end of the summer," Biden said. 

The vice president said that while he planned to meet with Iowa legislators while in the state, he was not holding any organizational meetings for a possible presidential candidacy.

Still, the biggest hurdle for Biden may be that Democratic primary voters still see another member of the Obama team, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton ad focuses on children's healthcare Is Moscow trying to influence Trump-Clinton race? Kaine: Nobody should ever say they're ready to be president MORE, as the preferable option.

A Des Moines Register / Bloomberg poll conducted late last month showed Clinton with a 56-9 percent lead over Biden in Iowa. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also surpassed the vice president, garnering 16 percent.

In an interview with ABC News last month, Biden said he hadn't decided about a run.

“Yes, there is a chance,” Biden said. “But I haven’t made my mind up about that. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then. There’s plenty of time.”

The vice president said he saw the nomination battle as “wide open on both sides” and praised the former secretary of State as a “really competent, capable person and a friend.”

Biden said, “the person who is going to be the next president of the United States is the one who is able to articulate the clearest vision” for how to move the country forward.

He added that he did not think he needed to decide whether he would enter the race until the summer.

“Right now, my focus is getting implemented what the president talked about last night: to nail down this recovery and get the middle class back in the game,” Biden said. 

This post was updated at 5 p.m.