Vice President Biden's plans over the inaugural weekend are just the latest sign he is thinking beyond the next four years, beginning to lay the structural groundwork for a 2016 bid.
On Saturday night, the vice president made an unannounced drop-by at the Iowa State Society ball, where he flubbed a familiar campaign line, declaring, "I'm proud to be president of the United States." After the audience broke into laughter, Biden quickly corrected himself, saying, "I'm proud to be vice president of the United States," adding, "I am prouder to be Barack Obama's, President Barack Obama's, vice president." In another sign that 2016 jockeying has already begun, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley also attended the Iowa ball.
On Sunday, Biden was formally sworn in at 8:21 a.m. at the Naval Observatory, with a crowd of Granite Staters on hand. The New Hampshire Union Leader's John DiStaso reports that Governor Maggie Hassan, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster were on the guest list. Also on the list: State Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, state Sens. Lou D'Allesandro and Donna Soucy, lobbyist Jim Demers, and Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire President David Lang. According to the pool covering the vice president, a seat was also reserved for South Carolina Democratic Party chair Dick Harpootlian.
The New York Times reports that, in contrast to the president's small private ceremony, an audience of 210 was on hand at the Vice President's residence. Biden was sworn in using the Biden Family Bible, which is five inches thick, has a Celtic cross on the cover and has been in the Biden family since 1893.
Even the choice of Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor to administer the oath may have been a nod to electoral politics. According to the Vice President's office, Biden personally selected Sotomayor to administer his oath, first on Sunday, then on Monday at the U.S. Capitol. As Biden's office pointed out, Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and fourth female judge to administer an oath of office.
In an interview with CNN's Gloria Borger, Biden ducked questions about 2016, saying: "There's a whole lot of reasons why I wouldn't run. I haven't made that decision. And I don't have to make that decision for a while. In the meantime, there's one thing I know I have to do, no matter what I do. I have to help this president move this country to the next stage."
Asked whether he was ready to run against Hillary Clinton, he responded: "I haven't made that judgment. And Hillary hasn't made that judgment. But I can tell you what—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.
"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."