WASHINGTON — Joe Biden in 2016? The inauguration is barely over but the vice president already is dropping plenty of hints that he might have another political act.
Biden packed his schedule with events and receptions attended by party stalwarts throughout the long weekend of inauguration festivities, stoking speculation he may be laying the groundwork to carry the torch from President Barack Obama. It comes after Biden played a prominent role in brokering a compromise on the fiscal cliff standoff with Congress and his work developing gun violence legislation following December's deadly school shooting in Connecticut.
The next presidential campaign is a long way off and the Democratic primary chase will be dotted with plenty of "ifs," most notably whether outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton decides to seek the nomination. Clinton, the former New York senator and first lady, remains the heavy favorite among party activists but several notable Democrats, including Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, are said to be keeping their options open in case Clinton decides not to run again.
As vice president, Biden can stay in the spotlight and is no stranger to the demands of a presidential campaign after failed bids in 1988 and 2008. The former Delaware senator has racked up a long list of domestic and foreign policy achievements even as his occasional off-script moments have become fodder for Republicans.
"There's a whole lot of reasons why I wouldn't run," said Biden, who will be nearly 74 on Election Day in 2016, in an interview with CNN on Monday. "I don't have to make that decision for awhile. In the meantime, there's one thing I know I have to do, no matter what I do. I have to help this president move this country to the next stage."