Biden Stokes 2016 Speculation with Iowa Visit

BY Terence Burlij  September 16, 2013 at 8:50 AM EDT


Vice President Joe Biden greets attendees at the 36th Annual Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa on Sept. 15. Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Vice President Joe Biden might just run for president a third time.

But he was dropping no real hints Sunday during a visit to the state that holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

As the keynote for Sen. Tom Harkin’s 36th annual Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa, Mr. Biden pointedly noted he came out in favor of same-sex marriage last year, ahead of prominent Democrats and even President Barack Obama.

“A lot of people criticized me for speaking out, not long ago, about gay marriage. I could not remain silent any longer,” Biden said.

He ran for president in 2008 against the man who is now technically his boss, and in 1988. He failed to win any states in either bid.

The vice president kept his remarks mostly focused on Democratic Party boosting, praise for Mr. Obama, and Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley’s candidacy to replace Mr. Harkin, who is retiring after five terms.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 39, shared the stage with Biden, 70, and told his own story during his remarks. The Washington Post reports:

“I invested in myself,” Castro said, “but fundamentally I reached my dream because you invested in me, because the American people invested in me. That is America. That’s what’s great about this nation. That is the blueprint for success in the 21st century.”

For his part, Harkin introduced the two Democrats joining him for a pre-speech event as representing two generations and embodying “the strength, the heart, the soul of the Democratic Party,” according to a pool report by Jason Noble of the Des Moines Register.

Biden told a group of donors that Republicans are “a different breed of cat, as my uncle used to say.”

“These guys aren’t bad. I’m not making moral judgments, but they have a fundamentally different view of America than we do – a fundamentally different view,” he said, according to the pool report, which also noted that Biden warned of “rising GOP leaders” and said, “Unless we can maintain this seat, unless we can begin to break down the majority in the House of Representatives, everything you have fought for for the last six years and beyond is in jeopardy.”

As Biden left the Steak Fry stage a few hours later, Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” boomed from the loudspeakers. The song, of course, was Mr. Obama’s signature campaign tune. Next on the playlist? “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac. Yeah, former President Bill Clinton’s theme song.

Jonathan Martin presents more color from the scene in the New York Times:

After his address to about 1,300 people, Mr. Biden, wearing a button-down shirt and baseball cap with the vice-presidential seal, kept up the patter along the rope line for at least 30 minutes. He addressed some activists from his 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns by name, held up at least one baby, and did not think twice about snagging an iPhone out of one person’s hand and passing it back to an aide for a picture.

Martin describes former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “looming colossus-like over the 2016 Democratic race.”

Biden did not mention Clinton during his 35-minute speech, though he did laud her successor, Secretary of State John Kerry. Politico’s Alexander Burns notes what was left unspoken:

“I have great respect for everyone with whom I ran in 2007. If you go back and look at those 13 debates, the only two people who never disagreed on any single, solitary subject in those debates were Barack Obama and Joe Biden,” the vice president told the crowd.

It may not have been lost on the audience that Hillary Clinton ran that year as well.

Biden advisers insist the address was not an early version of a 2016 stump speech. More than a few of the lines were familiar fare for Biden, and the Delaware Democrat shrugged off a reporter’s shouted question about 2016. “I’m ready to win some House and Senate seats — now,” Biden replied.

Mr. Obama, unsurprisingly, dodged a question about a potential Biden-Clinton primary matchup on ABC’s “This Week.” (One peg for the question was this Amy Chozick article about the Cilnton-Biden relationship in the New York Times.)

“What I would say to folks out there is we are tremendously lucky to have an incredible former Secretary of State, who couldn’t have served me better, and an incredible vice president, who couldn’t — who couldn’t be serving me better,” Mr. Obama told host George Stephanopoulos.

The president called the 2016 talk “premature,” to which Stephanopoulos pointed out that Biden was in the Hawkeye State.

“Well, you know, Iowa’s a big state, and he’s an old friend of Tom Harkin’s,” Mr. Obama responded.

(By the way, Biden got great coverage in the local press Monday morning.)

A new CNN poll released Monday found that Clinton tops Biden among Democratic voters 65 percent to 10 percent for the vice president.

What’s changed since the last time we tackled the way-too-early start to the next presidential contest? Not a whole lot. And as we told you then, Clinton will continue to dominate the polls. For a long, long time.

We’ve been hearing lately from political hands who might be tapped to work for a Clinton campaign, with more of them saying they think it will happen. But it’s anyone’s guess at this point, and we’ve got many months before we know anything for sure.

LATINO AMERICANS

From the first Spanish settlers who arrived in America decades before Plymouth rock or Jamestown, to the 53 million Hispanic Americans living here today, Latinos have helped form what is now the United States in ways we were often never taught in school.

From the Wild West to the civil rights movement to the current fight over comprehensive immigration reform, it has been a five-century journey, one that our own Ray Suarez chronicles in “Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation.”

Gwen Ifill recently talked with Ray about his new book. Watch their conversation here or below:


Ray’s book was released in conjunction with a PBS special three-part, six-hour documentary series of the same name. “Latino Americans” chronicles five centuries of history, and it debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT.

LINE ITEMS

  • The president will speak Monday on the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis. He defended his administration’s handling of the economy Sunday on ABC and argued House Republicans are standing in the way of fixes to income inequality.

  • Larry Summers withdrew his name from consideration to become the next chair of the Federal Reserve, amid opposition from some Senate Democrats to the former Obama administration economic adviser.

  • A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found nearly 70 percent of Americans said they don’t understand the health care reform law passed in 2010, or only understand part of it. The survey also showed that 31 percent of respondents said the overhaul was a good idea, with 44 percent calling it a bad idea.

  • Organizing for Action plans to release a television ad on Monday criticizing Republicans in Congress for threatening to shut down the government unless funding for the president’s health care law is eliminated.

  • The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung details how the agreement between the U.S. and Russia on Syria’s chemical weapons came to be. The Post’s Josh Hicks, meanwhile, wraps the reaction to the deal from lawmakers.

  • Sen. David Vitter, R-La. was not happy about Senate Democrats considering whether to insert prostitution into a health care vote in response to his amendment they don’t like.

  • Mr. Obama will travel to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines next month, the White House announced Friday. The trip will include discussions with Asian leaders about economic and security issues.

  • CQ Roll Call lists the 50 richest members of Congress. California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa placed first, with a net worth of more than $350 million.
    • West Virginia MetroNews reports that West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant plans to announce this week that she will seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2014. The race is for the seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring.
  • What’s so great about a 501(c)6 anyways? Alex Seitz-Wald explores why the Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners, which gave out $250 million during the 2012 campaign, files as a business league — “near-virgin territory in the tax code.”

  • The president met with labor leaders Friday, but is not agreeing to their request for changes to his health care law.

  • Members of Congress can’t agree on legislation creating a national science laureate. Seriously.

  • Sen. John McCain might just be serving his final term, the Arizona Republican hinted.

  • Shirtless and wading? Mentioning strip clubs? Yeah, this ad for a mayoral candidate in Minneapolis is pretty wacky.

  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg won’t endorse in the race to replace him.

  • Christina was on “Up with Steve Kornacki” on MSNBC Saturday morning. The trio of guests interviewed Joe Lhota about his New York City mayoral candidacy, talked about Boehner’s future and questioned Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. about Syria. And there was an actual mock game show about sequestration.

  • Christina moderated a book chat with “This Town” author Mark Leibovich.

  • Former Republican senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Fred Thompson stars in a Broadway version of John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill.” Watch him weigh in on the story.

  • Actual headline on this Aaron Blake post about California GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s radio interview with KPCC-FM: “Congressman recalls drunken arm-wrestling match with Putin.”

  • What do failed Senate candidates do after they lose — badly? Here’s one option.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Mark Shields and David Brooks talked about Boehner’s challenges, the future of the Republican party and the state of our economy five years after the financial crisis. Watch:


TOP TWEETS

Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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