Hardball with Chris Matthews, 1/23/13, 7:00 PM ET

Looking ahead: Biden vs. Clinton?

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Nia-Malika Henderson discuss the possibility of a Biden vs. Clinton showdown for 2016.

Biden vs. Clinton in 2016?

Updated

The field for Democratic candidates in 2016 may already be shaping up with two big contenders: Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

The vice president seems to be laying the groundwork for a run. He invited about 200 Democratic insiders to his residence Sunday to discuss the 2012 campaign win. But many say they walked away from the gathering with the impression that Biden is planning a 2016 bid. The guest list reportedly included key political figures from New Hampshire, Ohio and Iowa.

The vice president also wasn’t quick to rule out the possibility of a campaign for the White House Tuesday. “Everything that should be done over the next two years that I should be part of would have to be done whether I run or I don’t run,” Biden told CNN.  “If this administration is successful, whoever is running as a Democrat is better positioned to win. If we’re not successful, whoever runs as the nominee is going to be less likely to win.”

So is Joe willing to give it one more go?

“I think it all depends on Hillary Clinton,” Washington Post Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson told Hardball on Wednesday. “And this idea that somehow he can scare her away? She’s not scared of anyone.”

A new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News shows that Hillary Clinton’s popularity doesn’t seem to be wavering; 67% of Americans say they have a favorable view of her, including 37% of Republicans. Meanwhile, Biden is viewed favorably by 48%.

President Obama recently gave Biden the responsibility of handling the fiscal cliff negotiations, which he successfully brought to a close. The vice president was also asked by Obama to lead a task force on gun control legislation.  But could these roles wind up hurting Biden?

“It puts him in the line of fire.  His approval ratings will likely decline in the way that Obama’s will decline in the next year,” Henderson says. “Hillary Clinton will be off safe somewhere.”

One of the main deterrents of a Biden campaign is his age.  He would be 74 when the 2016 election comes along. (Secretary Clinton would be 69). But the vice president was as spry as ever on inauguration day, racing to greet reporters and hug kids along the parade route.

msnbc Contributor and Washington Post.com managing editor Chris Cillizza tells Hardball that Biden knows exactly what he wants to do.

“If you were to ask Joe Biden today ‘Hey, Joe, are you running for president?’ Do you know what he’d say?  Yes,” says Cillizza, “And I don’t think he would pause.”

Biden vs. Clinton in 2016?

Updated