Biden allies say he doesn’t have to rush into race

Biden allies say he doesn’t have to rush into race
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Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Sanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE isn’t feeling any pressure to announce a presidential bid, allies to the former vice president say.

While a string of Democrats including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE (Calif.) and Kristen Gillibrand (N.Y.) have jumped into the 2020 mix, sources who have spoken to Biden in recent days say he's letting the process play out before revealing his intentions. 

Behind the scenes, however, Biden is proceeding as if he is going to enter the fray in the coming months. He is reaching out to key Democrats, swapping emails with donors and speaking at notable events that keep his name in the mix.

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Biden allies are also preparing staffing and organizing recommendations should he decide to enter the race. 

“He's getting in front of as many people as possible,” said one source who has spoken to the vice president. "He's building a case for himself with people who'd be important not just in Iowa and New Hampshire but folks across the country.” 

Last year, as he appeared on the stump for candidates in the midterms, Biden said he would make a decision by the end of the year. Then, last month, he said he would decide in the next two months. 

But more than anyone else in the field, the former vice president can afford to wait, Democratic strategists say. 

“Biden biding his time. Yes. He can,” said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist. “My sense is that up till now no one has really wowed the Democratic faithful. I think he is seeing how everyone is being received as they jump in and then he can wait a while and if he decides to do it, his announcement would be an incredibly compelling one, and would excite many progressives as well as those who believe that Biden is the one who could attract white working-class voters."

“I think that at the point when he jumps in, he would be seen as the one to beat,” Cardona added. 

A Biden ally said the former vice president is in a position to start mapping things out but remain on the sidelines.

“If he entered now, he'd be with everyone else. It's actually pretty smart of him to hold off a bit, build momentum and build the case privately and publicly,” the ally said. 

Other Biden allies who have talked to the former vice president in recent months say he doesn’t need to be out there as soon as someone like Gillibrand, who is still trying to introduce herself to the electorate. 

“People already know who he is and that's an advantage,” said one former administration official.
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The former official said Biden’s efforts are further along than they ever were during the 2016 cycle when he contemplated running for president. That factor alone leads those around him to believe he will in fact enter the race. 

There is no clear front-runner in the race, but a Biden entry could create one.

He holds the top spot in many polls, including a Morning Consult-Politico survey released on Thursday which had him in the lead with 26 percent, 10 points more than Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries The hidden connection between immigration and health care: Our long-term care crisis Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE (I-Vt.), who also hasn’t entered the contest.

Biden does face several obstacles. 

For starters, there are would-be candidates who could threaten his road to the nomination. 

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke — who quickly gained favor among Democrats after nearly defeating Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGoogle official denies allegations of ties to China The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Cruz in 2016 said 'something fundamentally wrong' with Christians who back Trump: book MORE (R) in Texas — poses a significant threat to Biden, even the staunchest Biden supporters acknowledge.

“It’s something we’re all very aware of,” one Biden ally said. “I think he could be the biggest challenge."

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE (D-Ohio), who launched a tour through the early states this month — could also peel away some of Biden’s support in a primary. 

Biden has launched an invisible campaign of sorts. This week, he appeared at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day event and also addressed the United States Conference of Mayors. 

Along the way, he’s offered a preview of what his candidacy might look like, even touting his willingness to work with Republicans.

“I read in The New York Times today that one of my problems if I were to run for president, I like Republicans. OK, well, bless me father for I have sinned,” Biden said at the mayors conference. “From where I come from, I don't know how you get anything done. I don't know how you get anything done unless we start talking to one another again.”

Biden was responding to a New York Times piece about criticism he received from some Democrats for his praise of Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonTrump praises GOP unity in opposing resolution condemning tweets The four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's tweets House votes to condemn Trump for 'racist comments' MORE (R-Mich.) during a speech last year. Upton was a target of Democrats in the midterm elections. 

Biden allies waiting for the news that he’ll run for office again say they believe his recent remarks are a sure sign that he’s in. 

But for now, those around Biden say they believe he’ll jump into the fray more than ever and he’ll do it on his own time. 

“It’s all happening but it's hard to say 'Go' until he says 'Go,' ” the Biden ally said.