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Biden Campaign: Heir to Obama          09/03 06:32

   Vice President Joe Biden is headed to Florida, where he's sure to get a 
glimpse of his presidential prospects as he considers a late entry into the 
2016 Democratic primaries.

   MIAMI (AP) -- Exploring a presidential campaign, Vice President Joe Biden is 
presenting himself as a natural heir to President Barack Obama's policies, 
previewing his potential pitch to voters during a trip to the crucial swing 
state of Florida.

   Biden planned to outline the Obama administration's role in brokering a 
nuclear agreement with Iran during a meeting with Jewish leaders in South 
Florida on Thursday morning. It would follow a robust defense of Obama's work 
to address middle-class economics and college affordability during a Wednesday 
stop at a Miami community college.

   "We find ourselves on the verge right now of a potential for an economic 
renaissance in this country. It's not because of Barack Obama and Joe Biden," 
the vice president said, adding: "There's a reason for it. We are better 
positioned than any other nation in the world ... to be the leading economic 
power in the 21st century."

   As Biden considers a late entry into the Democratic primaries, he faces a 
field that has been dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham 
Clinton, who often credits Obama for helping rescue the nation from recession, 
and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose anti-establishment message has 
emphasized economic inequality.

   Clinton has locked up much of the Democratic establishment and few expected 
Biden to enter the race. But Clinton's recent slide in primary polls and 
questions surrounding her use of a private email account and server while at 
the State Department have prompted Biden's deliberations.

   If Biden joined the field, he would be most closely associated with Obama, 
who maintains strong support among rank-and-file Democrats. But the vice 
president has also signaled that he would seek to champion progressive 
policies, meeting recently with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a favorite 
of liberals, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

   On Monday, Biden will join Trumka at Labor Day events in Pittsburgh.

   In Miami, Biden raised money for the Senate Democrats' campaign arm but did 
not address his 2016 plans, according to two donors who attended the event. The 
donors, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Biden's remarks at the 
private fundraiser, said the vice president spoke of the need to elect more 
Democrats to the Senate and offered a lengthy defense of the Obama 
administration's nuclear deal with Iran.

   The donors said Biden did not touch upon Clinton's campaign but praised 
Sanders for doing a good job energizing the party. The dinner to benefit the 
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was attended by several Clinton 
fundraisers.

   Earlier, Biden brushed off shouted questions from reporters on whether he 
plans to seek the presidency, but offered up one piece of advice at Miami Dade 
College that was ripe for interpretation.

   "People who aren't willing to risk failing never succeed," Biden said, 
citing the courage of older students who go back to school to learn new skills 
and pursue advanced degrees.

   His speech included nods to his work with Obama to address economic 
disparity, rebuild roads and bridges and help workers learn new skills.

   Biden talked at length about the president's proposal to spend billions of 
dollars to cover the cost of two years of community college for eligible 
students. The plan, which has stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress, 
would eliminate tax provisions that benefit the wealthiest individuals to pay 
for the $60 billion price tag. Biden was eager to defend it.

   "Let me say this clearly to the press, I can hardly wait ... to debate my 
friends" about the tax proposal, he said. As he was discussing it, what 
appeared to be a butterfly flew over the audience, prompting Biden to exclaim, 
"The butterfly agrees with me!"

   He also planned to defend the Iran agreement before Jewish voters in the 
South Florida congressional district of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the 
chair of the Democratic National Committee who has yet to take a firm position 
on the plan. Later in the day, Biden was speaking in Atlanta about the 
administration's work to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and its 
overarching foreign policy agenda.

   Biden is expected to make a decision within a month. Democrats close to the 
vice president have said his recent discussions have focused on whether his 
family would be ready to pursue a third presidential campaign only months after 
the death of the vice president's son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau 
Biden. The preparations have also centered on whether Biden might have a 
plausible path to victory after Clinton and Sanders have been campaigning and 
raising money since last spring.

   Biden, meanwhile, is well aware that his every move is being closely 
watched. During a tour of a biotechnology lab at the Miami college on 
Wednesday, a student asked the vice president if he wanted to join in her work. 
He quickly demurred.

   "I'm going to watch," Biden joked, looking at the press corps. "I can see 
the press headline: 'Biden screws up experiment.'"


(KA)


 
 
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