If Joe Biden wants to try for a residency in the White House, he’ll probably have to go through Becky McAndrews. That’s because she owns JoeBiden.com, the website he would need to launch a presidential run.
The former corporate secretary to Biden’s 2008 presidential bid would not say if she’s been contacted by Biden’s high command about 2016, but said she’s, “Just waiting, like everyone else.”
That’s the position currently shared by many in Biden’s orbit as the vice president blows through one self-imposed deadline after another. Even for his supporters, the wait has been a bit trying. Allies want to give Biden the time he needs — and they know he chafes at the pressure on him to announce a decision soon — but they’re eager to get to work and aware that more delays only build the deficit they’ll have to overcome if he joins.
The end could be near, though.
Sources familiar with Biden’s thinking told NBC News Monday morning that a decision could come in the next 48 hours. Later, Fox News reported the same.
Rep. Brendan Boyle, a freshman congressman from Philadelphia, added to the speculation when he became a rare Democratic official to put his name behind a pronouncement about Biden’s timing. “I have a very good source close to Joe that tells me VP Biden will run for Prez,” Boyle tweeted Monday.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, has been making phone calls to Delaware associates, sources told NBC News.
Former Biden staffers, many of whom declined to speak on the record, expressed conflicted emotions about the vice president’s waiting game. Their affection is real, and many think he would be a better candidate for the party in the general election than current front-runner Hillary Clinton. But others worry the time to jump into the race has passed and that a run against Clinton could be an unfortunate coda to a long, successful career.
“Most folks who have been in the Biden camp for many, many years have mixed emotions, knowing that the family is always first,” said McAndrews. “My line to everybody is: It makes my feet hurt just thinking about it,” she quipped, referring to the shoe-leather she burned through on the last campaign.
Mike Cuzzi, a former top Obama campaign aide in New Hampshire who now works with the Draft Biden super PAC there, said supporters realize the vice president needs time. “Are we all eager for him to make a decision and determine if he is going to throw his hat in the ring? Of course we are, but we also realize that this isn’t as decision that one takes lightly,” he said.
Reading the tea leaves on Biden’s decisions is particularly confounding, since it comes down to the vice president himself and he’s vacillated on the decision. Clinton, by contrast, always seemed determined to run again.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who has been deflecting questions on the vice president’s 2016 plans for months, deferred to a higher power during his briefing with reporters Monday. “The the laws of physics will require that this be a decision that will be announced relatively soon, since the date of these contests is coming up,” Earnest said.
Some Democrats hoping for Biden to enter the race are loath to discuss timing, worrying that another bypassed deadline may lead people to conclude the vice president is not running — for real this time.
And the wait may have already cost Biden some support. Dale Todd, an Iowa Democratic activist and former Cedar Rapids city council member, visited the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory earlier this year, but signed on with Clinton’s campaign after hearing nothing from Biden’s team.
“People are getting locked up,” he said. “It’s too bad, because I think he would have had some traction, but it’s getting late in the game.”
Kurt Meyer of the Tri-County Democratic Party in Northern Iowa said every day Biden waits is a day when his challengers and their respective staffs devote hundreds of hours to preparing the field. “He is much beloved, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a jump between much-beloved and ready-to-caucus-for,” said Meyer. “It would take him months to get an operation worthy of the name up and running … So you’ve just got to say, that’s a huge gap to make up when you have no money and no staff.”
In an email sent Friday to alumni of Biden’s campaigns, longtime Biden aide Ted Kaufman, who replaced him in the Senate, acknowledged the uncertainty. “A lot of you are being asked, and have asked me, about the direction and timing,” Kaufman wrote. “I know in the daily ups and down of the political swirl, we all get bombarded with the tactics. So sometimes it’s good to take a step back and get real again.”
Biden has already missed the first Democratic debate, but will have a chance to appear on another major stage Saturday at Iowa’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which will attract all declared candidates and thousands of party activists.
Biden can appear — as long he declares a presidential run first, according to the state party.