In this May 26, 2015 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden listens to remarks to the media during a meeting between President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Is Biden stoking the fire – or throwing cold water on it?

Biden: My heart and soul “are pretty well banged up” … This isn’t a way to build up a fire for 2016; it’s a way to throw water on it … Boston Globe: Biden and Elizabeth Warren aren’t exactly BFFs … Hillary: “I should have used two emails … I take responsibility for that decision” … Is Trump getting into Jeb’s head? “We need leadership in Washington, D.C. High-energy leadership,” Jeb said yesterday … And Obama marks 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.


*** Biden: My heart and soul “are pretty well banged up”: We heard Vice President Joe Biden talk about his thoughts on a 2016 run for the first time since the speculation took off earlier this month, and he sounded like a man who’s too personally wounded to jump into the presidential waters with both feet. In a conference call with DNC members yesterday to talk about the Iran deal, Biden said, “I’ve given this a lot of thought and dealing internally in the family about how we do this,” referring to a possible White House run, as NBC’s Kristen Welker reported on “Today.” He later added to the DNC members, per Welker: “If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul – and right now both are pretty well banged up.” Those comments match what we wrote yesterday, as well as Politico’s Glenn Thrush’s reporting. “The Joe Biden who has been reaching out to Democratic operatives and would-be donors for a potential 2016 bid isn’t quite the happy warrior of bygone days,” Thrush wrote.

*** This isn’t a way to build up a fire for 2016; it’s a way to throw water on it: Folks, this isn’t a way to stoke the 2016 fire. Indeed, it’s more throwing water on it. It’s as if Biden was trying to tell the political world: calm down. Of course, Biden’s comments come as another Quinnipiac poll (this one national) shows him with a better fav/unfav rating than Clinton, and has him performing slightly better in hypothetical general-election matchups than Hillary does. (The same poll, though, shows Hillary leading both Biden and Sanders in the Dem race.) Then again, campaigns-in-waiting are usually going to poll better than the campaigns already underway. In football terms, think about it as the excitement for the backup quarterback who hasn’t thrown an interception yet.

*** Biden and Elizabeth Warren aren’t exactly BFFs: By the way, given Biden’s meeting last weekend with Elizabeth Warren – plus the speculation that Warren could be part of a ticket with the vice president – don’t miss the Boston Globe piece noting that they haven’t been BFFs in the past. Just consider this 2002 New York Times letter to the editor that Warren wrote, which called out Biden for work he was doing a bankruptcy bill. “Banking and credit lobbyists have been trying to change the bankruptcy laws for years. The current bill was stuck in conference between the Senate and House until Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware — where many banks and credit-card issuers are incorporated — agreed to vote with Republicans on almost all the issues that were holding up the bill. But Mr. Biden also told his Democratic colleagues that he would support an amendment to stop abortion protesters from using bankruptcy protection to avoid damages they might otherwise have to pay for violating federal law in violent clinic protests.” Warren wasn’t wrong here: There’s a reason why so many banks and credit-card companies are based in Delaware.

*** Hillary: “I should have used two emails … I take responsibility for that decision”: Yesterday while campaigning in Iowa, Hillary Clinton was more contrite than we’ve seen since the email scandal first began. “I should have used two emails [for works and personal use],” she said. “I take responsibility for that decision.” It’s worth asking: What if that had been her tone two or three months ago? Indeed, in the span of a week or two, she’s gone from defiance and humor to acceptance and contrition. The problem for her is that this contrition is late – and the transparency, frankly, has been dragged out from her.

*** Is Trump getting into Jeb’s head? You have to ask the question after Bush said this yesterday: “We need leadership in Washington, D.C. High-energy leadership.” Of course, that comes after Trump has been saying – time after time – that Jeb Bush is a “low-energy” person. This is the downside of Jeb engaging with Trump: He’s starting to get into Jeb’s head.

*** Obama marks 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina: Finally, President Obama heads to New Orleans to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina – and mark the opening of a new community center in the Lower 9th Ward there. “Not long ago, our gathering here in the Lower 9th might have seemed unlikely,” Obama is expected to say in his 4:55 pm ET remarks, according to the AP. “But today, this new community center stands as a symbol of the extraordinary resilience of this city and its people, of the entire Gulf Coast, indeed, of the United States of America. You are an example of what’s possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and to build a better future.”

*** On the trail: Donald Trump holds a campaign event in Greenville, South Carolina at 11:00 a.m. ET … Hillary Clinton holds an organizing event in Cleveland, Ohio … Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee are in Iowa … Rand Paul stumps in Idaho … And Martin O’Malley is in New Hampshire.

Click here to sign up for First Read emails 

OFF THE RACES: Trump still on top, per Q poll

A new national Quinnipiac poll shows Trump in first place among GOP voters at 28%, with 12% for Ben Carson and 7% apiece for Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The same poll shows Hillary Clinton at 45%, Bernie Sanders at 22%, and Joe Biden at 18%.

BUSH:’s Emma Margolin writes that the gay couple highlighted in Bush’s new e-book won’t vote for him.

Asked about Jorge Ramos, he said he thinks reporters should be “treated with a little more respect and dignity.”

BIDEN: He said that he’s still gauging whether or not he is emotionally prepared for a White House run.

Tom Harkin is lobbying Joe Biden not to enter the 2016 race, reports the New York Times.

POLITICO notes that his onetime “no” on the go-ahead to ambush Osama bin Laden could haunt him.

CLINTON: She responded to yesterday’s shootings in Virginia by pledging to take on gun violence.

The Wall Street Journal notes that she’s softened her tone on the email issue ever so slightly: ““I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why. I get it.”

She’s working on a plan to secure the nomination on March 1, POLITICO reports.

GRAHAM: POLITICO looks at how Lindsey Graham is creating headaches for Republicans in the Palmetto State.

O’MALLEY: He says a Biden entry into the race “could only help” the Democratic primary debate.

SANDERS: The Upshot looks at inequality within Bernie Sanders’ coalition.

He’s making a direct pitch to Democratic party establishment insiders.

TRUMP: The Wall Street Journal on Donald Trump: “His success has baffled his rivals and critics, but it makes sense to people who have studied the psychological power of bullying.”

“In a 35-minute interview this week with The Washington Post tracing his history with the Bushes, Trump unleashed a hailstorm of scorn. He found 33 ways to skewer the family — about one put-down per minute.”

Ouch, in the Des Moines Register: “Leaked emails show that the Iowan who is Donald Trump’s new national co-chairman was throwing bombs at him as recently as last month, expressing grave misgivings about the authenticity of Trump’s religious faith and his conservatism.’(Trump) left me with questions about his moral center and his foundational beliefs. … His comments reveal no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal,’ evangelical conservative activist Sam Clovis said in an email just 35 days before he quit his job as Republican Rick Perry’s Iowa chairman and signed on with Trump’s campaign.”

The AP on his campaign structure: “While Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton boasts an army of more than 350 paid staffers, Trump’s operation fields less than a tenth that number.”

He said he doesn’t want David Duke’s endorsement.

WALKER: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker completed a full five-stop campaign day in Iowa Wednesday, going from one eatery to another in his pursuit of completing a “full Grassley” – by visiting all 99 counties in the state, NBC’s Shaquille Brewster reports. According to the campaign, yesterday’s trip brought the number to 23. Brewster adds that each stop was with a small group of people, sometimes with formal remarks, others with no remarks and a lot of personal interactions. Throughout the day, Walker touched on many different topics outside of his traditional stump speech. He began by pausing to mention the shooting in Virginia, but over the course of the day talked about China, ethanol subsidies, differences with other candidates (mentioned Cruz specifically), and Donald Trump.

And around the country…

VIRGINIA: Former governor Bob McDonnell will find out soon if he must report to prison during his appeal.

OBAMA AGENDA: Remembering Hurricane Katrina

In New Orleans today, the president will mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. “You are an example of what’s possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and to build a better future,” he’s expected to say.

The latest on the markets: “A recovery in global markets gained steam Thursday after concerns about slowing growth in China triggered a rout earlier this week. U.S. stock futures and shares in Europe and Asia rose sharply, building on a rebound that began Wednesday after reassuring comments from central bankers and positive U.S. economic data.”

From Bloomberg: “The European Union is working on a political agreement that would set the stage for future energy deals in Iran, two people with direct knowledge of the talks said. The agreement could be signed as soon as November, they said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. The accord would pave the way for any talks on specific contracts in the future and would come only after the nuclear deal reached in July between Iran and world powers enters into force, the people said.”

NBC News’ Carrie Dann contributed.

Joe Biden

Is Biden stoking the fire -- or throwing cold water on it?