U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks after receiving the Green Jobs Champion Award during the Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference at the Washington Hilton April 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.  
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Lindsey Graham predicts Joe Biden will jump into 2016 race

Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted Thursday that Vice President Joe Biden will soon jump in the Democratic presidential primary, telling reporters Hillary Clinton’s change of tone on Planned Parenthood tipped him off.

“Last week [Clinton] said, ‘These videos were very disturbing.’ This week she said, ‘I stand firmly with Planned Parenthood.’ Translated: She thinks Joe Biden’s running — that’s why she flipped,” he told reporters following the first Fox News debate.

“I think he’s gonna run, if she doesn’t up her game.”

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Clinton last week called a trio of videos released by anti-abortion activists that appeared to show a person negotiating the sale of fetus body parts from Planned Parenthood “disturbing,” but defended the organization’s work for women’s health.

Less than a week later, she released a video in which she declared she was “proud to stand with Planned Parenthood” and attacked three GOP presidential contenders — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas — for enacting cuts to funding for women’s health.

Chatter surrounding a potential Biden bid has grown in recent weeks with multiple media reports citing close friends and advisers saying the vice president hasn’t yet made up his mind. That, coupled with Clinton’s slow but steady decline in support since entering the race — although she remains the clear front-runner — have Republicans gleeful at the prospect of a face-off between two of the Democratic Party’s biggest names.

Biden, however, has made no moves toward a run, and advisers have downplayed the possibility in conflicting media reports.

Graham made the case in the spin room following the debate that regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, he’s well-suited to take them on. One candidate in the GOP field who’s not equipped to compete against Cltinon, in Graham’s mind: Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul who’s currently polling at the front of the pack.

Clinton, Graham said, would “beat him like a drum.”

“At the end of the day, I would support him, but I know I can beat Hillary Clinton,” he added, citing his humble upbringing and foreign policy experience.

But Graham won’t be able to draw a side-by-side comparison with Trump, as he’s barely registering in the polls, earning nowhere near enough support to make the top-10 cutoff for Thursday night’s prime-time debate. Graham said the process of choosing which candidates would make the debate was “screwed up, in an unfair way,” and said he’d focus on the early primary states instead.

“National polling’s testing celebrity and name identification,” he said. “Brad Pitt would be in the debate if he were in the poll.”

Debates, Joe Biden and Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham predicts Joe Biden will jump into 2016 race