During an appearance in Iowa Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden said he’ll make a decision about running for president in 2016 at the end of the summer.
"That's a family personal decision that I'm going to make sometime at the end of the summer,” he told reporters between two events in the key presidential state, which holds the first caucus of the presidential nominating process.
Earlier in the day, Biden told students that whoever ends up as the Democratic nominee should embrace President Obama and run on his legacy.
The vice president said he and Obama helped bring the country back from the brink during the Great Recession, and have now placed it “on the precipice of a significant resurgence.”
“That's what the next presidential election is going to be about too. Do we continue the path that we're on? Or do we go back to the [failed] policies of the past?” Biden told a crowd of almost 1,000 at Drake University in Des Moines. “Some say that would amount to a third term of the president. I call it sticking with what works.”
It's an argument that Biden made during Obama's reelection battle in 2012, and it's one that will almost certainly be fodder for Republicans, who think the current president will weigh down any Democrat who hopes to replace him. It might also stoke speculation that Biden is preparing for a run himself, since he would have the best claim to carrying on Obama's legacy as his vice president.
Biden has become Obama’s top public defender, arguably even more vocal than the president himself. At a House Democratic retreat in Philadelphia late last month, Biden urged Democrats to “double down” on the president and embrace him.
On Thursday in Iowa, which holds the first caucus of the presidential nominating process, Biden said the stakes are high heading into 2016, as the policies laid out by Republican and Democratic presidential candidates will determine whether the middle class will reclaim its place in America or not. Republican "trickle-down" policies will only help those who are already comfortable and keep the middle class from growing, Biden said.
The vice president also said that while the 2008 recession was particularly devastating, the decline of the middle class started under Ronald Reagan and continued through the 1990s, “except for the last two years of the Clinton administration.” The vice president has previously received some flack from allies of Bill Clinton for saying the middle class fared poorly under the former Democratic president.
The 72-year-old has run for president twice before and says he is thinking about running against Clinton’s wife, presumed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, in 2016.
But lately, Biden has been telling allies that he looks forward to reprising his role from the 2012 presidential race as Democrats’ top attack dog against Republicans.
Whether Biden’s speech in Iowa Thursday was a glimpse of Biden the attack dog, or Biden the candidate remains to be seen.
He speaks again Thursday afternoon at a community college.