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Biden road-tests 2016 message

Biden road-tests 2016 message

Vice President BidenJoe BidenIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief South Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Obama alum Seth Harris to serve as Biden labor adviser: report MORE is road-testing his campaign message ahead of a possible run for the White House.

At a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh, Biden showed off his working-class roots while calling for policies to address income inequality. Before that, during a two-day swing through Florida, Biden flaunted his foreign policy chops and mingled with party donors.

On Thursday, Biden will appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where his off-the-cuff style, which has endeared him to many Democrats, will be on display.

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Biden’s ramped-up public schedule has fueled speculation that he is poised to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

The vice president insists he has not made up his mind and that he isn’t sure he has the “emotional fuel” to run for president after the death of his son Beau. 

But the Biden buzz grew again Tuesday, when a new Monmouth University poll showed the vice president gaining ground on Clinton nationally.

Clinton still commands a 20-point lead over Biden, 42 to 22 percent. But Biden leapfrogged Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has 20 percent support after months of campaigning. The vice president, meanwhile, gained 10 percentage points since the last version of the poll without even being in the race.

Biden, 72, has appeared energized during his campaign-style trips.

A discussion with Jewish leaders in South Florida on the Iran nuclear deal doubled as a chance for Biden to show he could match records with Clinton, a former secretary of State, on foreign policy. 

“I’ve traveled, as of today, 992,894 miles for the president,” said Biden, the former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman. “I’ve met with virtually every major leader in the world. I know these guys. I know them better than anybody in the administration, because I’ve been hanging around so long.”

Marching in the Pittsburgh parade, he heard cheers of “run, Joe, run” and “give it a go, Joe.” 

The Scranton, Pa., native served up red meat to the party’s liberal base in a speech to the United Steelworkers union, calling for the elimination of tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy to pay for programs such as free community-college tuition. 

Biden also heaped praise on Sanders, who he said is doing a “hell of a job.” 

When an audience member shouted, “Run for president,” Biden wouldn’t say which way he’s leaning. 

“I gotta talk to my wife about that,” he said.

Biden’s wife, Jill, is said to be hesitant about a presidential campaign, wary of the emotional toll it could take while the family grieves the loss of Biden’s son Beau to brain cancer in May.  

The vice president has not been shy about sharing those deliberations during his recent road trip. In a speech at an Atlanta synagogue last week, he spoke in softer tones about the burden a campaign could place on his family. 

“The factor is, can I do it? Can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment that would be proud to undertake under ordinary circumstances. But the honest to God answer is I just don’t know,” said Biden.

He will almost certainly face questions about 2016 during his appearance on Colbert’s show, which is expected to draw big ratings in its inaugural week of telecasts. 

Some Democrats say Biden’s everyman persona could be his biggest asset if he enters the White House race.

“He has a compelling political story about his dedication to his family, a working-class background and an ability to work well with everybody to get things done,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon, who is not affiliated with a candidate. “Biden’s ability to work well with others would be a refreshing contrast to the GOP front-runner Donald Trump.”

But if Biden decides to run, his message will be put to the test. He could have difficulty stealing the populist mantle from Sanders or creating a contrast with Clinton, with whom he served in the Obama administration for four years. 

He will also have to deal with attacks on his long record in the Senate, which includes the passage of a controversial crime bill in 1994, and counter the lingering skepticism from his failed presidential runs in 1988 and 2008. 

“He will have that ‘kick me’ sign on his back if he decides to run,” Bannon said. “The attacks on his past campaigns, and plagiarism allegations, are going to reemerge. He will have to push extra hard to get his message out.” 

Now that he has tested the waters, Biden will have to make a decision soon. 

Biden faces a massive fundraising gap with Clinton, who raised $45 million in the first quarter. The vice president would begin his campaign with zero dollars in the bank. 

Although the Draft Biden super-PAC has made some strides, Biden has not built the type of political organization he needs to get on the ballot in early primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. 

The first Democratic presidential debate will take place on Oct. 13, just over a month from today. 

“If he’s going to decide to get in, he’s got to do it now,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, who is backing Clinton. “There is very little time to wait.”